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NAPLES, Italy — The showdown was reduced to slowdown Saturday as the previously unbeaten Aviano Saints fell to the Naples Wildcats 20-12 on Saturday.

“They were going at my No. 1 (Natalie Smith), trying to get her in foul trouble,” said Aviano coach Laura Corder-Chavez in explaining her decision to take the air out of the ball. “I told our team we’d play that way for three quarters and then see what happens.”

What happened was that the Wildcats erased Aviano’s 2-0 lead at the end of the third quarter with a 20-10 run.

“We didn’t handle it very well,” Corder-Chavez said. “We’ve got to learn to step up to all kinds of situations.”

Naples (11-1) was putting the heat on Smith on Saturday because Smith burned the Wildcats for 19 points, 12 steals and five assists in a 59-44 victory on Friday night.

Despite Saturday’s loss, Aviano’s situation going into the final weekend of the season is mostly favorable. The Saints (11-1) will entertain Sigonella (8-4) while Naples travels to Vicenza (10-2). If both teams win the rest of their games, Aviano would claim an automatic berth in the European D-III tournament.

“I’m glad it [the loss] happened now instead of in the tournament,” Corder-Chavez said.

Point guard Michelle Aguila, who scored 14 points in Friday’s loss, was the difference for Naples on Saturday. The 4-foot-11 All-ASIL performer scored a game-high nine points and was 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the final quarter.

“It was a great win for our team,” said Naples coach Craig Lord, whose Wildcats have won the past two Med tournaments over Aviano. “We patiently waited for the opportunities and were fortunate to capitalize.”

Renna Damon, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds on Friday, had eight points and six rebounds for Naples on Saturday; Mavis Sanders led Aviano on Saturday with five points.

The totals were a far cry from Friday night, when Sanders scored 12 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, Jessica Corder registered 11 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks, Emeral Templeton had nine points and 10 rebounds, and Kassie Mangosing chipped in eight steals and four assists for Aviano.

AFNORTH moves into second

VAIHINGEN, Germany — Led by senior star Laura Rivera, the visiting AFNORTH Lions (7-3) swept Patch 50-36 and 61-31 Friday and Saturday to move into a second-place tie in Division II with idle Vilseck.

Rivera scored 27 points on Friday and 25 on Saturday to keep her team in the hunt for the D-II regular-season championship. The Lions trail league leader Hanau (10-0) by 2½ games with home series left against Black Forest Academy on Feb. 6-7 and Hanau on Feb. 13-14. Hanau visits three-time defending European champion Bitburg for a pair of games before closing out the regular season at AFNORTH.

Vilseck closes its regular season with road dates at Patch and SHAPE.

Bitburg batters Black Forest

BITBURG AB, Germany — Bitburg tuned up for its showdown with Hanau with 46-10 and 40-17 victories over visiting Black Forest Academy on Friday and Saturday.

Bitburg’s two-time All-Europe junior center Nadia Parker proved far too much for BFA to handle. Parker scored 23 points and grabbed 15 rebounds on Friday; Saturday, she chalked up 21 points, 11 rebounds and four steals for the Lady Barons (8-2).

After the Hanau showdown, Bitburg closes out the regular season at home against Patch.

Hanau stays perfect

HANAU, Germany — All-Europe forward Katisha Fauntleroy scored 31 points on Friday and 14 on Saturday as the Panthers upped their record to 10-0 with 61-30 and 57-26 victories over winless SHAPE.

Fauntleroy also contributed 20 rebounds and blocked three shots on Friday, when she was 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. She had 16 rebounds and three blocks on Saturday.

Tiffany Loyal led Hanau on Saturday with 19 points, and second-team All-Europe center Courtney Smith had 20 rebounds and four blocks on Friday and 16 rebounds and six blocks on Saturday.

Ramstein keeps pace

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Three-time European Division I champion Ramstein defeated Kaiserslautern 58-37 Friday night to improve their overall record to 8-1 and Division I mark to 6-1.

The Lady Royals, led by 17 points by Raquel McCullom and 11 by All-Europe guard Krissy Grosselin, remained a game behind unbeaten Heidelberg in the division standings with the victory. Heidelberg, idle the previous weekend, took a second weekend off when Lakenheath, its scheduled opponent for the week, was forced to stay in England because of snow.


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