2/29's George Caberaus (13) drives around MEDDAC Team 1's Jonathan McKinney during Tuesday's championship game of the Commander's Cup Preseason Basketball Tournament.

FORT BENNING, Ga. - The 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, needed three games and a triple-overtime thriller Tuesday to capture a second straight Commander's Cup Preseason Basketball Tournament crown.

George Caberaus scored 23 points, hit several clutch free throws and came up with a huge steal in the waning seconds to lead 2/29 to a 77-70 victory over MEDDAC Team 1 in the championship game at Smith Fitness Center. Matthew Walker added 15 points, including a game-tying 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left in the first overtime session.

"This is great. I couldn't be happier," said 2/29 head coach Donald Housey. "My team worked hard - they never gave up."

And they had no room for error Tuesday night.

After edging the 75th Ranger Regiment 61-59 in the losers bracket final, the club had to beat MEDDAC twice to retain the Cup. Walker pumped in a game-high 26 points as 2/29 took the opener 58-55 to set up the title showdown.

Housey said fatigue was never a factor.

"They're not really tired," he said. "All of 'em are Infantry, so they're in good shape. They could run it again if they had to."

2/29 carried a three-point lead into halftime but trailed 49-44 with 6:07 remaining in regulation as Chris Thomas and Darius Brown triggered MEDDAC's transition attack. The Infantrymen kept it close behind the perimeter shooting of Dexter Purifoy, who knocked down three 3-pointers in the second half, and the teams were tied at 53 going into overtime.

A pair of free throws by Brown with 14.7 seconds on the clock gave MEDDAC a 59-56 advantage. Then, Walker's shot from the right wing sent the gym into a frenzy and forced a second overtime.

In that 3-minute frame, it was MEDDAC's turn for dramatics. After two Caberaus free throws put 2/29 on top 68-65, Thomas buried a 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left to extend the game again.

With 2/29 protecting a 73-70 lead and less than 15 seconds to go in the third overtime period, Caberaus stole the ball as Thomas drove the lane and sank four free throws down the stretch to preserve the championship.

"We hit some clutch shots. We have faith," Housey said. "The difference was (Caberaus) carried the team on his shoulders. Everybody believes in him. Everybody looks up to him."

Eddie Brown, Ladell Pollard and Purifoy all had 11 points for 2/29. Darius Brown and Thomas scored 24 points each in the loss.

2/29 was the top seed entering the Commander's Cup Postseason Basketball Tournament last year but finished third in that event.

"This tells us where we're at and what we need to work on," Housey said. "Our goal is to go undefeated, take it all the way this time."

The regular season starts Jan. 10.

Page last updated Fri December 17th, 2010 at 14:58