By Chrystal Smith
U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Public Affairs Office
The fateful number was two for the Wiesbaden High School girls’ team during the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe Basketball Championships in Wiesbaden Feb. 19-23.
A number-two seating, a two-point semifinal victory and two-point loss in the championship game summed up action for the girls during the five days of tournament action.
While every team may have thought the crown was fair game, Jim Campbell, WHS coach, said he believed strongly a few days before that his squad would be vying for the DoDDS-Europe division championship Feb. 23 at the Wiesbaden Fitness Center.
“There are no stars. … just a lot of hard workers willing to play together as a team, and that’s what I think will lead us to Saturday,” Campbell said after defeating the International School of Brussels in the opening round of play Feb. 21 at McCully Barracks.
After play against Heidelberg and Patch Barracks high schools the team drew Lakenheath in semifinal action Feb. 22. The team fell behind quickly and was facing a 22-point deficit at halftime. A third-quarter offensive spark led by on-target-shooting Rebecca Russell and Cierra Martin pulled the team within nine by the end of the third quarter.
The final quarter the team held Lakenheath to four points and rallied to victory, 49-47.
“The tournament directors got the seeding right,” said Campbell looking ahead to the Saturday evening matchup. “They just didn’t give up.”
The team seemed to be in familiar territory, set to face their regular season rivals Kaiserslautern to claim the division crown. Despite losing the opening tap, the Lady Warriors were the first to score as action got underway in the Wiesbaden Fitness Center.
The first half was played fairly evenly as Wiesbaden led by five at the half.
Wiesbaden shut the Lady Raiders down, allowing no points and taking a 10-point lead to enter the fourth period.
The Kaiserslautern team rallied back in the fourth to tie the game, but the final two minutes would prove critical for the Wiesbaden squad as the Kaiserslautern team rallied back from a 10-point separation and knotting the score at 23.
Made free throws were the difference as both teams struggled from the charity strip.
K-town’s Martha Bonilla was finally successful, hitting two from the line under two minutes to play, and then icing the game with another pair with less than 15 seconds to play.
Warrior boys play for third place
The boys met a different fate at the close of the tournament.
After easy wins over Kaiserslautern and Lakenheath, the seventh seeded Vilseck unit unnerved the Wiesbaden boys with a 62-48 upset in pool play.
“Vilseck scared us because they had nothing but athletes,” said Coach Carl Johnson.
But posting a better record allowed the team to advance to semifinal action where it came up short to Ramstein in overtime, 49-45.
A critical blow was dealt to the Wiesbaden boys late in the third quarter as Tyler Cordon, senior center, went down with what appeared to be a broken ankle. Andrew Murray and Darren Williams carried the team as its leading scorer Kelsey Thomas struggled, scoring only four in the semifinal matchup against its constant foe Ramstein.
“In the regular season we split with Ramstein,” said Johnson.
“We had a hard time making shots. We shot only eight-for-25 from the free-throw line. But we had to keep working on defense,” he said.
Despite a hard fought matchup, third place would be the highest Wiesbaden could finish.
The following evening, they faced Kaiserslautern, another regular adversary, in the third-place match, but fell in overtime, 70-74.
While the teams were denied championship glory, several players garnered All-Tournament team honors.
Lauren Barry, Cierra Martin and Meghan Smith were selected for the girls and Kelsey Thomas for the boys.