Belvoir Eagles down Fort Lee Travelers 78-75 in WAMAC hoops
February 28, 2013
The Fort Belvoir Eagles men's basketball team claimed a hard-won 78-75 victory over the Fort Lee Travelers in a Washington Area Military Athletics Conference match up Sunday at Graves Fitness Center.
Belvoir overcame some early setbacks by focusing on a rapid-fire passing game and driving the lane despite a ferocious Fort Lee pressing zone inside, ultimately capitalizing on a trio of free-throw opportunities in the final two seconds of the contest to claim the win.
From the opening buzzer both the Eagles and Travelers attacked the court with an ample supply of determination to gain the upper hand. Eagles point guard, Calvin Booth, took the helm of the Belvoir machine, carefully reading the Fort Lee zone and finding some immediate opportunities. Executing a flawless passing game, Booth found shooting guard, Katoe Chapman, and forward, Tyrone Legette, open near the low post for a pair of early jumpers while center, Ron Johnson, provided security in the paint. Shooting guard, Chris Dilworth, added to the early onslaught with a keenly developed ability to find open hardwood around the perimeter, showcasing his well-known accuracy as a field goal specialist.
At the opposite end of the floor, however, Fort Lee demonstrated a commitment to building offensive momentum early with near-perfect picks and assists. Fort Lee point guard, Julian Simmons, employed uncanny accuracy from the perimeter, sinking a trio of clean field goals within the first two minutes of the exchange, as center, James Jones, and forward, Marcus Harper, provided nearly indefensible backup in the board-crashing department. Fort Lee complimented the early run with a fierce man-to-man defense added to the mix and managed to slow Booth and company's momentum and secure a 14-9 advantage at the 12:36 mark.
Following a timeout and substitutions, Belvoir revised their strategy to exploit Fort Lee's commitment to the press. Booth carefully analyzed the defense and unleashed a cross-court passing game that began to pay some needed dividends. Drawing three Fort Lee guards out to the perimeter, Booth quickly found forwards, Jayson Bradshaw and George Martin, and shooting guard, Mike Tapp, in the open who sank some needed buckets along the baseline. Building on that foundation, Belvoir followed up their fortunes with a vehement pressing zone of their own that rapidly began to rattle Fort Lee's cohesion. Booth, Tapp and Chapman harassed ball handlers from the midcourt stripe inward while Dilworth and Johnson guarded the lane for a series of rebounds and successful follow-ups inside.
By the halftime buzzer Belvoir had returned to within striking distance, trailing the Travelers by a mere five points, sending a surprised Fort Lee to the bench leading 40-35.
Second-half action got under way with Belvoir returning to their proven method of approaching an opponent's defense with caution and practicality. Booth recognized Fort Lee's determination to pounce on steal opportunities with little warning and kept the ball in constant motion around the three-point arc. The maneuver paid off immediately as Martin and center, Miguel Sierra, made themselves available in the paint for scores, and Chapman and Dilworth continued to fire from the high post despite enormous pressure.
The intensity grew as shot opportunities became increasingly scarce. Fouls racked up in short order and both squads took advantage of a string of freebies from the charity stripe to keep the score within three points throughout the third quarter.
From the outset of the fourth period Belvoir focused every ounce of energy on keeping the Travelers off balance with the passing game. Martin and Johnson demonstrated, in no uncertain terms, their willingness to plow into the paint regardless of the traffic, and Booth repeatedly drove the lane for hard-fought lay-ins and a pair of trips to the free throw line. By the 7:10 mark the Eagles had overcome a six-point deficit to inch into the lead with a 64-63 advantage, the effort aided in large measure by the intense defensive efforts of Legette and Dilworth's commitment to man-to-man.
Following yet another heated exchange of possessions, the contest sat tied at 75 apiece with less than a minute to go and Belvoir about to take possession. Fort Lee met the challenge with a solid full-court press, scrambling to prevent Chapman from connecting with a teammate. For nearly twenty seconds the Eagle's struggled to find a clear shot opportunity until Fort Lee managed to force a turnover and get a shot off from the perimeter that went short, wide and out of bounds. With a mere 1.8 seconds left on the clock, Belvoir prepared to take possession and get a shot off before the buzzer. Chapman found Booth at midcourt and the high flying point guard launched from the half-court line. The shot went wide but a Fort Lee defender made flagrant contact at the moment of truth and Booth was granted a trip to the free throw line with .3 seconds on the clock.
The foul proved to be the greatest mistake the Travelers made all evening, granting one of Belvoir's ablest shooters a trio of easy pickings. Booth sank all three buckets in nothing-but-net fashion to claim the 78-75 victory.
"The game against Fort Lee was a well needed win for the team, coming off a disappointing loss at the Capitol Classic against the Cherry Point Marine Base team," said Eagles Head Coach Herb Marshall. "Going into the game I didn't really know what to expect from Fort Lee. Knowing they always present themselves as a strong team in the paint I initially focused attention on the 'bigs' to prepare them for the game. Needless to say (Fort Lee) came with an unlimited number of good jump shooters and several 'bigs' (themselves)."
"We were prepared, with Martin grabbing the boards and running the lane offensively to complete the breaks," he added. "Johnson and Serria kept the pressure on to provide muscle to the paint; Martin blocked shots, and Bradshaw and Johnson tag-teamed to play the strong forward. Our 'bigs' carried us this weekend and gave the team what we needed to win."
"The guard-play was instrumental and balanced out the 'bigs' play. I had to play Legette as a big 3-guard in order to match the intensity of Fort Lee's 6'4 former West Point starting guard and current All-Army guard. The take away from this game would be 'opportunity favors the prepared mind,'" Marshall said.
"In this game of basketball you have to always be prepared to go on the court and provide 100 percent-plus and leave it on the court, for five seconds or 40 minutes. Our team played well Sunday and I'm happy for them and proud of them as winners representing the Fort Belvoir community," Marshall said.
Home WAMAC games are played on Saturdays and Sundays at Graves Fitness Center through March. For additional information and game schedules email Eagles Head Coach Herb Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.