By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMarch 15, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The regular season for the Fort Rucker Intramural Basketball season came to a close with two teams going head to head to win the title of league champions, but only one team, fittingly named, would come out on top.
The 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment Champs took on the post team, the Black Hawks, March 12 in a game that had spectators on the edge of their seats, but it would be the Champs who secured the league crown, narrowly edging out their opponents, 54-51.
For Staff Sgt. Denzel West, coach for the Champs, the winning factor came down to camaraderie.
"The team finally started syncing together," said West. "We've been integrating all new players this year and picked up a couple of new faces, but nonetheless we gave everybody a chance and trusted each other -- we had the camaraderie. Once you start to trust each other, everything becomes easy."
Despite what West said, the game was no easy win for the Champs.
The Black Hawks took possession to start and came out strong, managing to get on the scoreboard first, but the Champs weren't going to fall too far behind as they managed to stay on their opponent's heels early on.
The post team, known for their shooting prowess, came out with their A-game and managed to sink a three pointer to extend their lead, putting the pressure on the 1-11th.
Both teams went shot-for-shot early on, with the Black Hawks managing to stay in the lead, but only just, giving the Champs the opportunity to tie it up and eventually take the lead just five minutes into the half.
Both teams seemed evenly matched, and although the Black Hawks started off with what seemed to be superior shooting, the Champs were starting to come together as a team to match their opponent's ability.
The post team started to slowly fall behind as the 1-11th found their footing, but were careful to not fall too far behind. The Black Hawks managed to creep back up from behind and tie the game again, 10 minutes in, and champs were doing everything they could to retake the lead, which they managed to do with a three point shot.
As the clock wound down, the lead bounced back and forth between the two teams as both teams brought an aggressive play style that seemed to bring more fouls than baskets toward the end of the half. With seconds left, the Black Hawks managed to sink a three-point shot at the buzzer to take the lead going into the second half, 27-25.
It was still anybody's game, but the 1-11th had the advantage going into the second half with possession of the ball and they capitalized on that with a layup to tie the game.
Both teams remained evenly matched throughout the half, but the Champs began to pull away with a 4-point lead, but their lead wouldn't last long, as the Black Hawks stepped their game up and a managed to retake the lead, if only briefly.
The lead ping ponged back and forth for most of the remainder of the game, but the Black Hawks managed to take a 5-point lead, seemingly breaking the stagnation with 10 minutes remaining.
The Champs' defense seemed to falter, allowing the Black Hawks to pull away, but the 1-11th had plenty of time left to reclose the gap and they banked on that time, scooping up rebound after rebound to close the gap.
The post team managed to stay ahead for most of the half, but fouls kept their opponents close, eventually allowing the Champs to retake the lead with 5 minutes remaining in the game.
The Black Hawks were desperate to get back ahead, but with their aggressive play style came consequences, as they gave up multiple points to their opponents via free throws.
As the clock wound down in the final seconds, the Champs managed to sink a 2-point shot, followed by two free throws to take a comfortable lead.
The Black Hawks needed to sink a 3-point shot to send the game into overtime, but another foul sealed their fate, and the Champs became the champs with a 54-51 victory.