597th grounds 23rd FTS in intramural basketball
Carlton Marshall, 597th Maintenance Company player, goes for a layup while Bryant McCray and Jeff Stretkowski, 23rd Flying Training Squadron defenders, attempt to block during an intramural game Feb. 7 at Fortenberry-Colton Physical Fitness Facility. The 597th won, 66-55.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The U.S. Air Force 23rd Flying Training Squadron's return to intramural basketball could be wrapped up in one word: disappointing.

Not disappointing because the team is incapable of keeping up with the competition, but because it didn't maintain enough stamina to pull out a win against the 597th Maintenance Company Feb. 7.

After a year-long absence from the league, the 23rd FTS looked like it might be a little rusty after one half of play. However, the final score, 66-55, did not reflect how close the game really was.

The 23rd FTS kept the 597th on its toes for the entire first half, trading score for score.

Defensively, the FTS couldn't have asked for a better showing in the first 12 minutes. The rebounding skills of players like Jeff Dennis and Sam Gipson helped to keep the team moving forward to a 31-27 lead.

However, the 597th answered with some rebounding of its own and, especially in the second half, shut down any hopes of an FTS victory.

Eric Ruffin and Mike Sheldon of the 597th both had strong showings in the scoring department.

Sheldon showed off some high-flying moves most on the FTS squad and in the crowd didn't expect.

While the offensive surge of the 597th in the second half helped take the lead, it was the defensive play that kept it.

Doug Crawford, Carlton Marshall and Chris Gray of the 597th each pulled in key rebounds to keep the FTS from regaining momentum in the second half.

Gipson, FTS coach, said his team fought hard through the entire game, but it wasn't enough to keep the lead after the half.

"We didn't really play our game, we got too far away from defense," he said. "We gave them a lot of open shots and second shots, which hurt us."

Gipson said the team plans to get back to defense in upcoming practices and that he has a lot of respect for the 597th.

"They really played a great game," he said. "I have to give a lot of credit to their playing. We're going to work on our guard play. We've got to get back on defense."

Crawford, 597th coach, said he was pleased with the way his team performed, but there's still work to be done.

"We worked hard and played hard as a team," he said. "After the half, I pulled the team to the side and told them to settle down and that this was a team we could beat. I told them to make better passes and smarter shots."

He said the team plans to keep a similar strategy going forward and doesn't feel worried about his team's chances going forward.

"You worry in a time of storm," he said. "We are going to play aggressive, but make smarter decisions on offense and defense. Whatever happens, we've got a good team and we're ready to play."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16