Junior boys' championship a piece of cake
March 22, 2011
STUTTGART, Germany -- The Stuttgart "Cupcakes" turned out to be anything but as they solidly won the Installation Management Command Europe Western Regional Junior Boys Basketball Championship.
The Child, Youth and School Services-sponsored double elimination tournament for 13- to 15-year-olds was a cakewalk for the Cupcakes, as they went undefeated March 12-13 in Wiesbaden.
The team's road to victory began with a strategic name selection meant to deceive opponents.
"We knew they were going to say 'they're cupcakes ... they're not that good' - until they looked up at the scoreboard," said Kingston Davis, 13.
Though armed with confidence and a sense of humor, the team struggled to get to the regional tournament, according to head coach Gary Kaczmarek.
"There's a lot of talent here," he said, adding that the Cupcakes' toughest adversaries came from their own community.
At the IMCOM-E regional tournament, the Cupcakes swept Wiesbaden 28-20, Kaiserslautern 41-33 and Mannheim 34-31, and in the championship game, once again faced Wiesbaden, who had fought their way back into the finals.
"After playing them the first time, we weren't surprised to see them again in the championship," said Kaczmarek.
"They had a very long road coming back through the losers' bracket, and we knew they didn't fight that hard to make it all the way back into the championship to just give it away," he said.
The Cupcakes, however, stood their ground and crumbled any hopes that Wiesbaden had, winning the championship game 45-40.
"I couldn't be prouder of our young men for withstanding all Wiesbaden had and not only playing with a lot of heart and effort, but also playing smart," Kaczmarek said.
Kingston Davis led the charge, scoring 72 points and nabbing 34 rebounds in the tournament.
"I give credit to my team for helping me out. I couldn't have done it without them," Davis said.
The team went into the tournament with some specific strategies, according to Davis: " ... not to turn over the ball, play good defense, step out on the shooters and make free throws."
What the Cupcakes lacked in size, they made up in team play. "Our team is really small, but everybody stepped up and played their role, which helped us win," Davis said.
Davis was not alone in racking up impressive stats.
Jeffrey Kaczmarek, 14, scored 37 points, had 21 rebounds and five assists. Galvin McCall, 13, pulled down 41 rebounds. Chaz Young, 13, hit several three-pointers.
Teamwork and preparation paved the team's way to victory, according to assistant coach Leroy Davis.
"We played as a team. The kids are very unselfish - they gave the ball to whoever could score," said Coach Davis.
"They each brought skills to the table that we were able to use in order to win," he said.
And they honed those skills during weekly practices.
"Coach Kaz taught the kids the fundamentals ... shooting, dribbling, passing," said Coach Davis. "We tried to teach all the facets of the game. We worked on crashing the boards, boxing out, free throws and left-handed lay-ups."
For the coaches, that's why they got involved in the first place - to share their experience and knowledge of the game.
The payoff is simple. "I get to see the kids enjoy the game and watch them mature," said Coach Kaczmarek.
A championship trophy, in this case, is icing on the cupcake.