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March 17, 2007

Dedication, determination leads to team being inspiration

Editor's note: I love covering sports for the paper, but rarely to I get a chance to do the "commentary" style such as the one below. This championship series however, as a nail-biter to the end, so I though some of you sports fans might like to see what sports on a military installation is like.

-- Published in Fort Polk Guardian (March 9, 2007) --
By: MICHELLE LINDSEY, Guardian staff writer

It had come down to this night. Fourteen teams began the journey, but three teams would battle it out for the chance to be named the best. The victory would not be an easy one, but it would be a sweet reward.
The Fort Polk Morale, Welfare and Recreation Sports Division hosted the post basketball championship Feb. 27 - March 2 at 1st Combat Support Brigade Gym. The final three teams faced off March 2 to determine who would take home the title.
In the first game, 814th Engineer Company, 46th Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Combat Support Brigade, battled it out against Medical Department Activity to determine which team would compete against the undefeated G Company, 94th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, for the title. Both teams came into the championship game with a loss. Another in this double elimination tournament would send them home.
The game started off at a fast pace, both teams eager to prove their skill. The 16-minute halves stretched to nearly an hour as players fought for supremacy. Players battled for victory amid minor injury, fatigue and technical fouls. The fast action was slowed only for time-outs and free throws as both teams gave it their all. Despite their efforts, MEDDAC fell behind and the game ended with a victory of 41-32 for the 814th.
After a brief break, 814th faced off against G Co. The engineers were the underdogs as they played with six players against G Co’s eight players. Not to be deterred, the engineers held strong against their opponents despite only a small break between games and one person for substitutes versus three.
In the first half, the two teams pitted their skills and team work against each other as the score leapfrogged from one to the other and the lead alternated. They kept the pace as airborne antics led to points and rebounds. As the buzzer signaled the half-time break, the 35-27 score placed the 814th in the lead. They didn’t get complacent though as they battled the undefeated team, climbing to a 13-point lead with 13 minutes left in the second half. Both teams fought viciously for rebounds, turnovers, steals and baskets, but with two minutes left, 814th had climbed to a 15-point lead. A free throw point and shot on rebound gave them three more points. Not ready to give in, G Co answered with a shot bringing the score to 59-44 in favor of the engineers.
After calling for a time-out with 21.6 seconds left, G Co scored again before the buzzer ended the game with a 59-46 victory for 814th.
Since both teams had each lost a game, they had to play another game to determine the winner. G Co started their second game with eight players, while the 814th was down to five after a player was injured in the second half of the previous game. The 814th would have to battle aggressiveness with control to stay in the game.
The third game started off with a clean tip from Jamorris Dickerson, 814th, to teammate Felix Macias. A fast break ended in a turnover to G Co, allowing Nick Phipps, G Co, to score putting the first points on the scoreboard. Not to be outdone, 814th answered with a three point shot putting them ahead.
The fast action under the basket and heavy defense by both teams continued and the tension remained high as players vied for open shots and rebounds. The first half of the game saw the lead score jump between teams as players raced up and down the court.
The crowd roared as players scored points and defended their basket. With 3:21 left in the first half, the score was even at 17 points each. Walter Major earned two points on a turnover, giving the 814th the lead.
G Co answered with two back-to-back shots, retaking the lead. The lead went back and forth as the two teams battled for supremacy. At the end of the first half, the score was 25-21, 814th Engineers.
The competition continued through the second half as players scored points and fought for rebounds. The stands shook with the excitement of the crowd as they cheered on their team. With two minutes left in the game, G Co led with a score of 41-39. Jamorris Dickerson, 814th, sank two free throws, tying the score with 1:34 left. Both teams scored, leaving the crowd in an uproar as the teams tied yet again with 1 minute left. Shawn Gibson, 814th scored two points from under a heavily guarded basket, followed by G Co’s Marcus Harper sinking a two-point shot, tying the score again with 6.7 seconds left.
The teams battled for one last shot and as the buzzer sounded, Larry Foster, G Co, shot from the top of the key. The shot bounced off the rim, signaling overtime, as the teams slumped in their chairs, tired and sweating. The score was tied at 43 points.
Five minutes later, the buzzer sounded again and the teams seemed to catch their second wind as they raced to the court.
Another tip-off gave 814th the first chance at scoring as G Co rushed to defend their basket. Defense was heavy as both teams fought to score. Time-outs and foul shots gave the players time for a few quick breaths, but their determination to win was evident. As teams scored, the crowds went wild, but neither team was willing to concede.
G Co –– then 814th –– took the lead, trying to run down the clock while their team was in control, but the determination of these players was equal as the final buzzer sounded with another tied score, 50 all.
Another small break gave the players time to rest, but the intense play was wearing on the smaller 814th team. Though defending their title was paramount, the team has already played three games and an overtime segment.
As the second overtime period started, they voiced that this would be the last one. They had to step it up and put their skills and hearts on the line.
The 814th gained possession yet again at the tip-off, but a turnover gave G Co the chance to score. Not to give up, Walter Major, 814th, answered with a score for his team.
After a time-out called by G Co, 814th stole the ball and earned two points giving them the lead at 52-50. The battle continued and with 1:45 left in the game. The score was tied yet again at 53.
Major put his team in the lead with a free throw point, giving them hope that they could win the game, but Nick Phipps, G Co, answered with a three point shot, retaking the lead with 56-54. After a free throw shot, G Co increased their lead by one point.
The 814th countered with a full court press, where Gentry Walker, G Co, fouled Major, earning the 814th two points. The score was 57-56 with 46.3 seconds left in the game.
G Co scored again bringing the score to 60-56. At 21 seconds remaining, 814th faced a decision as one of their five players reached his foul limits and left the game. Injured player Eric Nykowski removed the ice pack from his ankle and returned to assist his team, but it wasn’t enough as Phipps made two free throws bringing the score to 64-58. Jason Malek, 814th, attempted a shot at the buzzer, too late. G Co won, taking the title from the defending champs, but not without a valiant fight.
“Both teams played well, gave it their all,” said Robert Smith, Morale, Welfare and Recreation sports specialist.
He applauded the 814th Eng Co for not giving up. “You see their determination and dedication. They are definitely an inspiration.”

2 Tea Party Guest:

stitcherw said...

Wonderful write-up, it really makes you feel like you are part of the game.
Sue

Seamus said...

Well written! Stopping in to say hi! :)