By ADRIENNE ANDERSONMarch 5, 2014
FORT BENNING, Ga., (March 5, 2014) -- For the second consecutive time this season, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, rode away with a championship win against 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, in Monday's season-ending Commanders Cup Basketball Championship.
In the preseason Commander's Cup tournament, 3-1 Cav fought back through the loser's bracket and defeated 3rd BSTB 58-36 in Game 1 and 48-34 in Game 2 to capture the trophy. This time, 3-1 Cav, only needed one game, a 49-44 win.
3-1 Cav took advantage of a slow start by 3rd BSTB and by the end of the first half led 23-14.
But BSTB's leading scorer, Michael Pellegrino, hit two 3-pointers and scored 11 points in the second half, but it wasn't enough to help the team catch 3-1 Cav.
"In the second half we came out strong, they started playing team ball," said BSTB coach Curtis Johnson. "They started playing like they were supposed to. But we just got too far behind."
3-1 Cav coach Ronald Lassiter said he changed his defensive strategy after finding out BSTB had just played against third place finisher A Company, 3rd Squadron, 16th Cavalry Regiment, and their top shooters were probably tired.
"Throughout the year we've been playing zone, but I felt tonight we should have went to a man-to-man so we could try to nullify (their top shooters)," he said. "And that's what we did. We played man-to-man and it worked."
Johnson said his team played a sloppy defense with too many unnecessary turnovers. The defense was responsible for giving up a game-leading 16 points to 3-1 Cav's Fuquan Wilson.
"We didn't step up when we needed to," Johnson said. "We expected to win. We had lost to them before, but we knew ... if we played a good team game ... we could beat them. The problem is we got a slow start and we got too far behind. By the time we kicked into gear it was too late."
Knowing what they were up against, Lassiter said his team played it smart.
"We worked real hard starting out from the beginning, and it paid off," he said. "We played excellent on defense and that was all I was stressing the whole time ... and we came out victorious."