Armed Forces Basketball Championships
February 19, 2009
By Tim Hipps
Sergeant Ron Bartley had 40 points and eight rebounds to lead the All-Army men's team to a 95-93 overtime victory over All-Air Force in the 2008 Armed Forces Men's Basketball Championships in Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.
Bartley shot 12-of-23 from the field, including 8-of-16 on 3-pointers, and had four assists and three steals in the Soldiers' best performance of the double-round-robin tournament played March 21-27 at Blue Mountain Sports Arena.
Second Lt. Matt Bell scored 21 points and Spc. Brett Thomas of Fort Huachuca, Ariz., added 10 points for All-Army. Warrant Officer Aaron Stuart of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, had eight points and a team-high 14 rebounds.
Bell, 23, a four-year starter for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., was named to the Armed Forces All-Tournament team after averaging 23.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists for All-Army (2-4), which finished fourth in the tournament against squads from the Air Force (5-1), Navy (3-3) and Marine Corps (2-4).
Bartley's hot hand kept the Soldiers in the first half of their second meeting with Air Force.
"That's the man, right there," Bartley said of Bell. "Last game he had about 40, so I knew they were going to key on him. Coach let us have a spread offense and let the guards do their thing. I got a little hot and caught on fire and rolled with that."
Bartley's 3-pointer from the corner, his fifth of the first half, gave Army a 36-29 lead and the Soldiers led 40-31 at halftime.
"In the first half, I was missing everything," Bell said. "Ron just got hot. He had his breakout game. We rode him the entire first half and a lot of the second half, too. He was hitting unbelievable shots.
"I just tried to keep my head in it and when I got an open shot, I was going to try to knock it down, but he controlled the tempo of the game and put us on a huge run to get the lead in the first half."
Bartley made another 3-pointer to open the second half. His eighth and final 3-pointer gave Army a 58-46 lead with 13:43 remaining.
"When I got tired, Matt picked it up, and that was it," said Bartley, 31, of Fort Carson, Colo.
From there, Bell made three 3-pointers and three free throws as Army tried to thwart Air Force's final run. But the Airmen would not go away and the Soldiers missed 10 free throws in the final 2 minutes.
After Staff Sgt. Bernard James of Beale Air Force Base, Calif., made a layup that knotted the score at 87 with 10 seconds left, Bell missed a 3-point attempt as the horn sounded ending regulation.
Thomas scored three points in overtime and 2nd Lt. Marshall Jackson of Fort Benning, Ga., made a free throw with 17 seconds left that sealed the victory.
"Yeah, we almost lost it there at the end of regulation, but that says a lot about our team," Bell said. "We missed a ton of free throws and they tied the game up and forced it into overtime. We could have just folded, especially against Air Force, who had a better record. But our guys picked it up in overtime and we were able to pull it out."
Bell, Bartley and 2nd Lt. Robert Moore of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, were named to the 2008 All-Armed Forces Team.
Moore, who did not play in Army's overtime victory over Air Force, averaged 12.6 points and 6.4 rebounds during the Armed Forces tournament.
Tim Hipps works for FMWRC Public Affairs