By JOHN W. PEELERFebruary 26, 2014
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Feb. 26, 2014) -- The Commander's Cup Postseason double-elimination basketball tournament kicked off Monday with Fort Benning Medical Activity posting a 50-40 win over A Company, 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, at the Smith Fitness Center Gym.
Deplete of long scoring runs, MEDDAC and 2-29 kept the first half close with MEDDAC taking a 27-22 lead.
In the half, two Georgia natives led the charge. Brandon Sparks, 28, of Columbus and Anthony Caple, 24, of Atlanta led MEDDAC by scoring eight points each, with Caple knocking down two 3-point shots in the half.
Half way through the final period, MEDDAC extended their lead to 27 by switching their defense from a 2-3 zone to a hybrid 2-1-2 zone, which forced 2-29 to take longer shots and cut off drives through the key.
Offensively, Sparks took over the game in the second half by scoring 10 of his game-high 16 points, while the defense limited 2-29 to four points in a 13-minute span as MEDDAC marched toward a 50-40 win.
Following the game, MEDDAC coach James Johnson attributed the win to his team playing up-tempo and his defense.
"I told the team we wanted to play an open court, run the floor type of game in the first half," he said. "I knew if we ran the floor they wouldn't have the legs to keep up with us in the second half. I intentionally kept the game up-tempo so we could get a lead and we closed that out in the second half … and you see what the end result was."
Johnson said the effectiveness of the defense, which he changed throughout the game, was key in the win.
"I switched to a hybrid defense to try and throw them off a bit," he said. "I was playing a hybrid 2-3 (zone), but really it was a 2-1-2. I just had my big man sink back a little bit. I wanted to clog their shots up in the middle earlier against that 2-3."
On rebounds, Johnson said he was pleased with the team's performance, and although he felt the team could have done better, did the best with what he had.
"We secured enough of the defensive boards to keep our momentum going," he said. "Then we got out on the floor and make them (2-29) run, and I got a chance to rest some of my starters a bit. In the playoffs, you have to rest your starters when you can."
Although MEDDAC won the game, 2-29 won the battle from the free-throw line by hitting 54.5 percent of their shots, while MEDDAC shot an even 50 percent.
MEDDAC played a second game Monday to a rested 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion team, losing 64-47 and at press time, are preparing to play the 98th Division. With the loss, A Co., 2-29 moved to the losers' bracket, as well, and at press time, is preparing to play an undetermined. All games are at the Smith Fitness Gym.
James (14), Reed (10), Hoosey (8), Morrison (8).
Sparks (16), Capie (10), Martin (8), Richardson (5), Rutledge (3), Holmes (2), Lewis (2), White (2), Wright (2).