Ramstein boys claim DODDS-Europe holiday tournament title
December 21, 2015
RAMSTEIN, Germany — With Christmas approaching, perhaps it’s not such a surprise that the spirit of giving was on such abundant display at the annual DODDS-Europe boys’ basketball holiday tournament, held Dec. 19-21 at Kaiserslautern and Ramstein High Schools in Germany.
Host Ramstein ran rampant through the field, culminating with a balanced 44-21 win against SHAPE in the championship game.
“This is my 11th year here and this is the most unselfish team I’ve ever had,” coach Andrew O’Connor said. “They just don’t care who takes the credit, they work well together, they love playing basketball, and it’s really infectious to be around that spirit.”
The Royals are 3-0 in regular season play and will look to use their performance in the tournament to catapult them to a second straight title. In their game against a strong SHAPE squad, their defense held the opposition to only nine points in the first half.
“Our chemistry is coming together really well, we play great together,” said Royals guard/forward T.J. Williams. “Our defense is amazing, that’s our strength right now.”
The tournament games don’t count toward the regular-season standings, but each of the teams in attendance were able to get some much-needed time to gel before the bulk of the European schedule.
“This is invaluable experience, we got seven games in this week,” said SHAPE head coach John Leipheimer. “That’s over half the games in the regular season just in one weekend.”
In addition to Ramstein and SHAPE, other teams in attendance were fellow Div. I schools Kaiserslautern, Lakenheath, and Wiesbaden, along with Division II Rota and Bitburg. All benefitted from the extra games, Leipheimer said.
“You can see tendencies that your team has, weaknesses they have, that otherwise you might not see until late January and now you’re seeing them before Christmas,” he said. “It really helps, and all the teams have said that.”
After their weekend exertions, players, coaches and fans will take a well-earned breather before regular season play begins again on Jan. 8, 2016.
SHAPE senior guard Austin Stephens, among the tournament’s standouts, was even able to do some late holiday shopping at the new Ramstein PX before heading back to Belgium.
“I’m looking forward to laying down and not thinking about basketball and school,” he said, “and just relaxing with my family.”
ScoresSaturday at Ramstein
Lakenheath 21, SHAPE 44 Bitburg 2, Ramstein 41 Kaiserslautern 31, Wiesbaden 39 Rota 50, Lakenheath 33 Ramstein 61, Kaiserslautern 21 SHAPE 48, Rota 41 Wiesbaden 57, Bitburg 25
Sunday at Kaiserslautern
Rota 35, Kaiserslautern 34 Bitburg 15, SHAPE 39 SHAPE 34, Kaiserslautern 32Sunday at Ramstein Ramstein 51, Lakenheath 11 Ramstein 47, Wiesbaden 35 Wiesbaden 47, Lakenheath 18
Monday at Kaiserslautern
Kaiserslautern 44, Lakenheath 42 Kaiserslautern 37, Bitburg 16 Bitburg 33, Lakenheath 27
Monday at Ramstein
SHAPE 24, Ramstein 41 Rota 41, Wiesbaden 40 Ramstein 37, Rota 24 Wiesbaden 38, SHAPE 49
Ramstein 44, SHAPE 21