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GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The war-delayed 2003 Army Europe basketball tournament got under way Thursday with battles for seeding position among the top four teams in the command’s Northern and Southern Regions.

Heidelberg’s men took an early lead in the race for the No. 1 spot in the Northern Region by defeating SHAPE 82-72 Thursday afternoon here and picking up a 2-0 forfeit from no-show Hanau in a late game.

Mannheim (1-0) and SHAPE (1-1) also picked up forfeit victories from Hanau.

In Southern Region men’s play Thursday at Vilseck, Stuttgart turned back Kitzingen 112-105 before falling to regular-season champ Ansbach 115-89 later in the day.

At press time Thursday, just two women’s games were completed. Heidelberg’s Lady Generals — the defending U.S. Forces champions who were unbeaten in the regular season — hammered Kaiserslautern 94-33 in the Northern Region, and Kitzingen’s Lady Rattlers edged Ansbach 63-61 in a Southern Region game.

Pool play was to continue Thursday night and Friday at the fieldhouse here and the Hilltop gym in Vilseck, with cross-pool elimination games scheduled for both sites on Saturday.

The tournament, originally scheduled for March 20-23, will conclude on Sunday, with the women’s title game scheduled for 10 a.m. and the men’s championship battle at noon. Both games will be played at the Grafenwoehr Fieldhouse.

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