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GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The schedule for the 2003 Army-Europe basketball championship envisioned that the Northern and Southern Region qualifiers here would begin bearing down Saturday, when the single-elimination portion of the four-day event was to begin.

The Heidelberg Lady Generals have been playing for keeps since the tournament began.

The Lady Generals closed out the pool-play portion of the war-delayed tournament Friday with a 73-69 over defending champion Mannheim.

The victory gave the Lady Generals (2-0) the top seed for the single-elimination round, which begins at noon Saturday at the Fieldhouse here and the Hilltop gym in nearby Vilseck.

Mannheim, which defeated Kaiserslautern 78-54 on Thursday night, will be seeded second in the knockout phase of the six-team women’s field.

In the Southern Region, Kitzingen’s Lady Rattlers were to play Vilseck in Friday’s late game. A Kitzingen victory would hand the top seed to them; a Vilseck victory would forge a three-way tie at 1-1 among Ansbach, Vilkseck and Kitzingen. Ansbach defeated Vilseck 60-54 in Thursday’s late game to close out their pool-play record at 1-1.

In the men’s field, a Friday-night showdown between three-time defending Army-Europe champion Mannheim and archrival Heidelberg was to determine the top seed for the Northern Regional.

Mannheim defeated SHAPE 108-78 on Friday afternoon to pull even with Heidelberg at 2-0 two-thirds of the way through pool-play. SHAPE finished third at 1-2.

In Friday’s other late game, Schweinfurt, which went 2-0 with 90-75 and 90-68 victories over Kitzingen and Stuttgart on Thursday, was to play Ansbach (1-1) in the final Southern Region pool-play game. A Schweinfurt victory would nail down the top seed for them; a victory by Ansbach, which dropped a 115-112 verdict to Kitzingen on Friday, would hand them the top seed on the basis of head-to-head results.

Whatever happens Friday night, winless Stuttgart is guaranteed a date against the Mannheim-Heidelberg winner in Saturday’s elimination opener.

The Southern Regional champion is guaranteed a victory in its first game Saturday, since Hanau, the Northern Region’s No. 4 seed, was unable to attend the tournament.

The tournament concludes here Sunday with the women’s championship game set for a 10 a.m. tipoff. The men’s final begins at noon.

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