Wiesbaden girls, Rota boys take unbeaten records into tourneys
Stars and Stripes February 22, 2011
Note: This article has been altered from its original posting that contained an incorrect record for the Naples boys basketball team.
MANNHEIM, Germany — The operative number when the 61st DODDS-Europe high school basketball championships open at 8 a.m. Wednesday is two.
That’s the total number of boys’ and girls’ teams who made it through the regular season unbeaten.
As might be expected, the two unbeatens — the defending Division I champion Wiesbaden girls and defending Division III boys’ champion Rota figure to be the favorites in their categories of the four-day event which ends Saturday at Mannheim’s Benjamin Franklin Village Sports Arena, probably for the last time. Mannheim is scheduled to close in 2012.
Before that, however, the Arena, along with the other tournament venues — Sullivan and Coleman Barracks in Mannheim, Patton Barracks and Heidelberg High School in Heidelberg and Tompkins Barracks in the Heidelberg suburb of Schwetzingen — will ring with the joy and cheers and tears of the final games, all 168 of them, of the 2010-2011 basketball season.
Although the setting’s familiar, DODDS Europe’s mid-sized schools of Division II, with enrollments ranging from the American School of Milan’s 179 to the 357 who attend Bamberg, will abandon pool play after two games each on Wednesday and go to an NCAA-style knockout tournament the rest of the way. Any D-II school which loses after Wednesday is eliminated from the tournament, which adds spice to the games leading to Saturday’s championship, according to Mannheim Lady Bison coach Adrian Crawford.
“The D-II tournament will have a real tournament feel this year,” e-mailed Crawford, whose team walked off with the D-II title in 2008 and will be chasing Mannheim’s third girls’ basketball crown in the school’s final year of existence. “I really like the way after Wednesday it is a one-and-done.
“it will add a little drama to our tournament,” Crawford added. “It will create added pressure, because in pool play you can lose and still make it to the semifinals … in this tournament a loss means you are out…”
That’s not the case in Divisions I and III, where the top two from each of two pools are to advance to Friday’s semifinals. All six title games, boys and girls in Divisions I, II and III are to be played consecutively beginning at noon at the Sports Arena.
Here’s a division-by-division look at the prime contenders to reach those title games:
Division I boys
Ramstein (11-3) is the two-time defending champion and, judging from the 66-27 thumping the Royals put on Region II champion Kaiserslautern (13-2) last Friday, seem intent on the three-peat. Friday’s victory gave Ramstein a split of the season series against their neighborhood rivals.
K-town’s other loss came in the first game of the season, 89-70, to top-seeded Heidelberg (12-2), the Region III champ. That alone puts the Lions, who also hold a regular-season victory over Ramstein, into the title mix, along with Patch (9-5). The Panthers defeated Heidelberg two weeks ago.
Wiesbaden (9-5), which upset Ramstein in the teams’ first meeting, is the dark horse.
Division I girls
Unbeaten, senior-laden Wiesbaden (14-0) easily slips into the favorite’s role. Winning a second straight title, however, won’t be anything close to easy with the likes of Region III co-champs Patch (12-2), seeded second here, and No. 4 Heidelberg (12-2) eager to meet Wiesbaden for the first time this season.
Wiesbaden beat Kaiserslautern (11-4) twice this season, but the third-seeded Lady Raiders, three-time champions this century and runners-up last season, have talent enough to earn a rematch.
Late-surging Vilseck (7-7) is the dark horse.
Division II boys
Naples’ glittering 13-1 mark, which includes two road romps over defending two-time D-II champion Aviano, has the Wildcats at the top of the charts.
Hohenfels (9-5), last year’s runner-up, moved into the title picture and earned the No. 2 seed by downing slumping Bamberg (9-4) twice last weekend. Don’t, however, count out the Barons. Also in the mix are the AFNORTH Lions (11-3) and the American Overseas School of Rome Falcons (10-4).
And with the new knockout format, anything can happen.
For example, Mannheim, despite its 5-10 record, might contend. The Bison are chasing history in their final hoops campaign and last week’s upset of Wiesbaden demonstrates the power of last-time-around status.
Even Baumholder (3-10) is optimistic.
“I think we’re a Cinderella team,” Bucs’ coach Jack Woodfork e-mailed on Tuesday. “We have a young, energetic team that hasn’t played its best basketball yet.”
Division II girls
Judging from the regular season, this championship is likely to come down to a rubber match between Aviano (11-1) and Vicenza (9-3). In keeping with the all-Italy prospects here, AOSR and Milan, both 8-4, are powerful enough to prevail, along with experienced AFNORTH (10-4). Ansbach is 6-7 overall but 6-1 vs. D-II schools, as is Black Forest Academy.
Surprisingly, Vicenza drew the No. 6 seed here, despite arriving with victories during the season over No. 1 Aviano and No. 4 Milan.
Division III boys
Rota (6-0) won last year’s title game against 2009 champ Sigonella (12-2), and behind 50-point scorer Tre’Von Owens figures to do so again. Sig, however, is toughened by a season spent playing bigger schools. The Admirals played regional games just six times during the season, all coming against D-III competition at RAF Alconbury.
Ankara coach Tim Redden, whose team honed its skills against local club teams all season, says his Trojans are competitive in this most unpredictable of the divisions.
“This is the strongest boys’ team to come out of Ankara in years,” he wrote in a Tuesday e-mail.
Division III girls
Menwith Hill (11-2) is the favorite here, but Lady Mustangs’ coach Kate Ojeda isn’t clearing space in the trophy case just yet.
“We know Rota, led by Allana Shelton is strong this year,” she e-mailed on Tuesday, “and Brussels is always a contender.”
Ojeda’s not just indulging in coach-speak.
Menwith Hill won both games it played in January against Rota, but the total margin was six points. The Lady Mustangs split two at defending champion Brussels in December.
And that doesn’t even include the remote schools – Lajes, Ankara and Incirlik. Look for the usual surprises here.