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MANNHEIM, Germany — SHAPE guard Kael Richardson would prefer that opponents continue to be fooled by appearances when the DODDS-Europe high school basketball tournament opens Wednesday.

“We’re not real big,” Richardson said. “When the other team sees us for the first time, they’re not very impressed.”

SHAPE, however, is an impressive 14-0, top-seeded in Division II and the only unbeaten boys team among the 36 squads in four divisions who will be in action here over the next four days.

SHAPE will be unlikely to tread the relatively easy path it has walked so far. Vying to deny the Spartans the D-II title they last won in 2003 is No. 2 seed Würzburg, the Division I champion in 2006, and third-seeded Baumholder, which gave SHAPE its closest call so far in losing 72-70 in double-overtime Feb. 10. Also in the running are No. 4 Black Forest Academy and Vilseck (6-8), the No. 5 seed that lost seven games by a total of 18 points.

One coach who would like to join that mix is Carl Johnson of Division I Wiesbaden. Johnson, who came to Wiesbaden from the Pacific in 2002, would like to merge the 10-team D-II field with the seven teams that play D-I.

“It’s tough to have a meaningful tournament with only seven teams,” he wrote in an e-mail. “…ask (the D-I and D-II coaches) if they would prefer a …16-team tournament, like in the Pacific — where there is a true Far East champion — or smaller tournaments where everyone is a winner. I envy the wrestlers, as the winners can truly be called a champion.”

For now, however, Johnson and his third-seeded Warriors (8-6) will have to wrestle against conference champion Heidelberg (11-3 overall), the No. 1 seed which will be playing without five-time European champion coach Brad Shahan, who was removed from his coaching duties in a disciplinary action (See story, Page 4). Also contending are No. 2 Ramstein (11-3) and No. 4 Kaiserslautern (11-4).

“K-town has the talent,” AFNORTH coach Rawn Jones wrote in an e-mail. “If they put it together, they could surprise a lot of people.”

In Division III, last year’s D-IV champ, Giessen, is top-seeded and on a 13-game winning streak. Led by C.J. Battle, Gee Williams, and D.J. George, the Griffins will find their stiffest competition furnished by No. 2 Rota and No. 3 American Overseas School of Rome.

Hohenfels also might contend, but 2006 D-II champion Hanau is a long shot after a going 2-12 in D-III this season.

Pete Resnick leads first-time III-North champion Menwith Hill into a D-IV field that features nine small schools and several large talents. Four of them play for Bamberg, the 2006 D-III champions who return Marvin Gholston, Dillon Baker, Josh Robinson and Dwight Richardson. Bamberg’s No. 1 in D-IV; Menwith Hill No. 2.

Also in D-IV is lame-duck Livorno, which along with Giessen and London Central of D-III will be making their final appearance in these Europeans. All three schools are scheduled to close forever this June.

Boys European basketball

Pools, seedings and venues(Overall records in parentheses)Division I(Wednesday-Friday)Pool A-1, Heidelberg (11-3); 4, Kaiserslautern (11-4); 5, Lakenheath (6-8)Pool B-2, Ramstein (12-2); 3, Wiesbaden (8-6); 6, Patch (3-12); 7, International School of Brussels (1-13)Venues-Wednesday: Patton Barracks, Heidelberg; Thursday: 1 and 2:15 p.m., semifinals at 6:30 and 8 p.m. at BFV Sports Arena, Mannheim; Friday: 3rd place, 10:15 a.m., championship at 6 p.m., both at BFV Sports Arena.

Division II(Wednesday-Saturday)Pool A-1, SHAPE (14-0); 4, Black Forest Academy (6-8); 5, Vilseck (6-8); 8, Aviano (10-5); 10, AFNORTH (3-11)Pool B-2, Würzburg (9-5); 3, Baumholder (11-3); 6, Naples (13-2); 7, Bitburg (5-9); 9, AFNORTH (3-11)Venues-Wednesday: BFV Sports Arena and Sullivan Barracks gym, Mannheim; Thursday: Coleman Barracks, Mannheim; Friday: Semifinals at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at BFV Sports Arena and Sullivan; Saturday: 3rd place at 1:15 p.m. at Sullivan, championship at 6:15 p.m. at BFV Sports Arena

Division III(Thursday-Saturday)Pool A-1, Giessen (13-1); 4, American Overseas School of Rome (11-3); 5, London Central (9-5); 8, Hanau (2-12); 10, Marymount International School of Rome (2-10)Pool B-2, Rota (Unavailable); 3, Hohenfels (7-7); 6, Vicenza (8-6); 7, Ansbach (8-6); 9, Sigonella (3-9)Venues-Thursday: Patton Barracks, Heidelberg; Friday: Coleman Barracks, Mannheim; Saturday: Semifinals, 9 a.m. at Sullivan and Coleman Barracks, Mannheim, 3rd place 3:45 p.m. at Sullivan, championship 2:45 p.m. at BFV Sports Arena.

Division IV(Wednesday-Friday)Pool A-1, Bamberg (10-4); 6, Livorno (3-10); 7, Ankara (Unavailable)Pool B-2, Menwith Hill (9-7); 5, Milan (1-10); 8, Lajes (Unavailable)Pool C-3, Brussels (3-9); 4, Incirlik (Unavailable); 9, Alconbury (0-14)

Venues:Wednesday, Coleman Barracks, Mannheim; Thursday: 10:30 and 11:45 a.m., semifinals at 3:30 and 4:45 p.m. at Sullivan Barracks, Mannheim; Friday, 3rd place, 10:15 a.m. at Sullivan, championship 4:15 p.m. at BFV Sports ArenaAdmission: Wednesday-Thursday: FreeFriday-Saturday: Adults $5, students $3 at all gyms

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