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James Williams of the Osan Defenders drives to the basket past David Cornelius of the Yongsan Runnin' Rebels during Wednesday's men's championship game.

James Williams of the Osan Defenders drives to the basket past David Cornelius of the Yongsan Runnin' Rebels during Wednesday's men's championship game. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

James Williams of the Osan Defenders drives to the basket past David Cornelius of the Yongsan Runnin' Rebels during Wednesday's men's championship game.

James Williams of the Osan Defenders drives to the basket past David Cornelius of the Yongsan Runnin' Rebels during Wednesday's men's championship game. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

Amoni Suttice of the Okinawa Mystics collides with Osan Defenders guard Lisa Bryant en route to the basket during Wednesday's women's championship game. The Mystics, with just five players, beat the host Defenders 78-72.

Amoni Suttice of the Okinawa Mystics collides with Osan Defenders guard Lisa Bryant en route to the basket during Wednesday's women's championship game. The Mystics, with just five players, beat the host Defenders 78-72. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

Seven-time All-Armed Forces swingman Evevetta Crawford of the Okinawa Mystics displays the Most Valuable Player award after Wednesday's women's championship game.

Seven-time All-Armed Forces swingman Evevetta Crawford of the Okinawa Mystics displays the Most Valuable Player award after Wednesday's women's championship game. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

Marlon George of Osan finds himself sandwiched between Derrick Ford and Glen Perryman of Yongsan during Wednesday's men's championship game.

Marlon George of Osan finds himself sandwiched between Derrick Ford and Glen Perryman of Yongsan during Wednesday's men's championship game. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

Glen Perryman (20) of Yongsan is defended by James Williams (top) and Lorenzo McKinley of Osan during Wednesday's men's championship game.

Glen Perryman (20) of Yongsan is defended by James Williams (top) and Lorenzo McKinley of Osan during Wednesday's men's championship game. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Perhaps the most unsung player on the Okinawa Mystics roster hit the key shot when it counted most.

Tachaka Moore’s driving shot in the lane with 8:25 left made the score 58-57, putting the Mystics ahead to stay as they rallied from an 11-point first-half deficit to beat the host Osan Defenders 78-72 in Wednesday’s championship game of the 20th anniversary Pacificwide Open Holiday Basketball Tournament.

Not a bad feat for a team of just five players who’d only been practicing together for three weeks and limped into the title game nursing various muscle pulls, bumps and bruises.

“We couldn’t have done it without the man upstairs,” said seven-time All-Armed Forces swingman Evevetta Crawford, who scored 14 of her 24 points in the second half and was chosen as the tournament’s women’s most valuable player. “We were all hurting, tired, but we did it. We came out on top. We came out victorious.”

Depth was hardly a bother for the Osan men’s team, which won the tournament for the seventh time in coach Tony Jones’ 14 years here, dethroning last year’s champions, the Yongsan Runnin’ Rebels, 85-65.

Of those seven titles, Jones counted this one as perhaps the most stunning — unlike the Mystics’ pedigreed players, not one Defender has an All-Air Force or All-Armed Forces berth to his credit.

“Especially this team, you have no idea what they have,” Jones said. “They surprised me. They worked so hard. There’s no telling what they can do next.”

Women’s championshipOkinawa Mystics 78, Osan Air Base 72: Defenders guard Jessica Dean got hot from outside, hitting three straight three-pointers as Osan scored 19 straight points to lead 25-14 with 8:30 left before halftime. Despite the deficit and with former All-Marines April Moss and Coco McCray in foul trouble, there was “never a doubt” the Mystics could rally, Crawford said.

“We always thought we could come back,” she said. “All we had to do was believe in each other, play together, play hard and play with intensity. We knew what we had to do. We had some lapses, we got a little frustrated but we kept it together.”

In a game that featured seven lead changes and six ties, the Mystics opened the second half with seven straight points to go up 42-40. The lead then seesawed until Moore — the only player of the five having never won this tournament or gone to an All-Armed Forces tournament — put the Mystics ahead for good.

For one half, the Defenders succeeded in their strategy of spreading the Mystics defense with the perimeter game — Osan hit 10 three-pointers, with Dean scoring six alone — and double-teaming Crawford.

But “we came out flat in the second half,” Osan guard Annie Reed said. “They saw an opening and took advantage. Give them credit. They’re an excellent team.”

All five Mystics players scored in double figures. Dean had 20, as did Bobbie Chaves. Reed added 15.

Men’s championshipOsan Air Base 85, Yongsan Garrison 65: The Runnin’ Rebels led briefly in the first eight minutes, until Gareth Davis hit two foul shots, giving the Defenders a 13-12 lead they would not relinquish with 11:07 left until halftime.

Osan still couldn’t pull away until midway through the second half. Inspired by a home crowd of more than 500, the Defenders steadily increased the margin in the closing minutes. Matt Wireman’s two foul shots with 25 seconds left gave Osan its biggest lead, 85-62.

James Williams led the Defenders with 26 points, 18 in the second half. Greg Wilson of Osan was chosen as tournament MVP. Kendre Fletcher topped the Rebels with 17.

“They’re firing on all cylinders now,” Yongsan coach Nelson Birdsong said. “But we’ll retool. Our goal is the Koreawide tournament in February. They have to come to our place. We’ll be there. We’ll be ready.”

Pacificwide Open Holiday Basketball TournamentAt Osan Fitness & Sports Complex Osan Air Base, South Korea

Men’s double-elimination playoffs

Monday’s games Game 1-Osan Air Base, South Korea, 104, Wonju/Camp Long, South Korea, 37Game 2-Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, 87, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, 81Game 3-Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, 104, Suwon Air Base, South Korea, 72Game 4-Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, 79, Camp Humphreys, South Korea, 69Game 5-Andersen Air Force Base 87, Wonju/Camp Long 69; Wonju/Camp Long eliminatedGame 6-Camp Humphreys 82, Suwon Air Base 77; Suwon Air Base eliminatedGame 7-Osan Air Base 89, Kunsan Air Base 58Game 8-Kadena Air Base 94, Yongsan Garrison 83

Tuesday’s games Game 9-Kunsan Air Base 71, Camp Humphreys 65; Humphreys eliminatedGame 10-Yongsan Garrison 91, Andersen Air Force Base 86; Andersen eliminatedGame 11-Osan Air Base 104, Kadena Air Base 92Game 12-Yongsan Garrison 93, Kunsan Air Base 74; Kunsan Air Base eliminatedGame 13-Yongsan Garrison 75, Kadena Air Base 74; Kadena Air Base eliminated

Wednesday’s game Game 14-Osan Air Base 85, Yongsan Garrison 65; Yongsan eliminatedWednesday’s summaryOsan 85, Yongsan Garrison 65 Halftime-Osan Air Base 39, Yongsan Garrison 33. Scorers-Osan Air Base, James Williams 26 (18 second half), Matt Wireman 22 (16 second half), Kenyetta Prince 12 (9 first half); Yongsan Garrison, Kendre Fletcher 17, Charles Almond 12 (10 first half); Andre Haskins 10 (all second half).

Women’s double-elimination playoffs

Monday’s games Game 1-Osan Air Base, South Korea, 66, Camp Humphreys, South Korea, 59Game 2-Mystics, Okinawa, 90, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, 65

Tuesday’s games Game 3-Mystics 67, Osan Air Base 63Game 4-Camp Humphreys 57, Yongsan Garrison 52; Yongsan eliminatedGame 5-Osan Air Base 65, Camp Humphreys 52; Camp Humphreys eliminated

Wednesday’s games Game 6-Mystics 78, Osan Air Base 72; Osan Air Base eliminatedWednesday’s summary

Okinawa Mystics 78, Osan Air Base 72 Halftime-Okinawa Mystics 40, Osan Air Base 35. Scorers-Okinawa Mystics, Evevetta Crawford 24 (14 second half), Tachaka Moore 16, April Moss 15, Coco McCray 12, Amoni Suttice 10; Osan Air Base, Jessica Dean 20 (6 three-point goals), Bobbie Chaves 20 (17 first half), Annie Reed 15 (10 second half).


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