By Mr. Matt Decker (Leonard Wood)March 22, 2018
Combat Training Company forced several turnovers and hit their shots when it counted late in the second half to beat the Office of Staff Judge Advocate, 43-37, in the championship game of the 2018 Commander's Cup Basketball Tournament March 13 at Davidson Fitness Center.
"This is probably the most fun I've had playing in a post championship game. They played their butts off -- it was awesome," said CTC player/coach Bradley McKinnon, who led CTC in scoring with 11 points.
CTC proved adept both from long range, with Cecil Hoskins nailing two key 3-point shots in the second half, as well as under the basket, where Kevin Rouse scored eight of his 10 points for CTC.
"It was pretty physical, just like any other game. You had to come in and play out front. Whatever you can do, you do, and whatever you can't -- you just get back on (defense) and do it again," Rouse said.
It was SJA that jumped out to an early lead in the first half, with a 3-pointer by Shelton Williams and baskets by Derrick Brumfield and Brock Bruner giving SJA a 7-4 cushion in the first two minutes of the game.
Baskets by McKinnion, Rouse and a 3-pointer by Pierce Millhouse gave the lead back to CTC midway through the first half.
CTC and SJA traded leads several times over the remainder of the period, going into halftime tied, 26-26.
CTC started the second half with back-to-back goals by Deveon Brooks and Rouse, and maintained the lead with long-range shots by Hoskins, and baskets by Millhouse and Khalid Walker.
"I think we played well," McKinnon said. "Rebounding, I think, is what was key for us. And the couple of threes that Hoskins hit down the stretch made the difference, too."
Following McKinnon and Rouse in scoring, Hoskins and Millhouse each finished with eight points, while Walker had four and Brooks had two points.
Williams led SJA with 19 points, followed by Bruner with eight, Derrick Brumfield with four and Leroy Fifer and Wayne Chambers, each with three.
It was a long road to the championship game for CTC, who were also this year's Conference B champions. With a bye in the first round, CTC began the tournament March 7 with a 48-41 win over the 1st Battalion, 48th Infantry Regiment on March 7, then defeated the 1st Engineer Brigade, 45-25 on March 8 to advance to the championship game.
McKinnon said his players have shown a lot of dedication throughout the season.
"It took a lot of effort," McKinnon said. "Sometimes just putting the team together and keeping them together night-in and night-out (has been a challenge). We actually had a couple of guys who started college last week, and we had a couple of them skip (classes) a couple of nights so they could finish the season with us tonight."
SJA, which earned a forfeit victory in the tournament's first round, defeated the Medical Department Activity, 55-44, on March 7 to advance to the semifinals, where they beat the 14th Military Police Brigade, 47-52, on March 8.
Master Sgt. Chris Allison, representing U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood, thanked players from both teams for a game well played before presenting the tournament trophy to CTC.
"It was a good game. It's very evident that both teams brought a lot of talent, a lot of effort and a lot of practice time onto the court," Allison said.
Prior to the championship game, the 14th MP Bde. won the tournament's third-place game, defeating the 1st Engr. Bde., 53-49.
"The team did a great job," 14th MP Bde. player/coach Michael Weatherholt said. "We really had a great time coming out this season. The things that we did this season were extremely comparable to last season. It was great to take third place -- I wish we could've taken first, but we'll be back next season."
Thirteen teams participated in the 2018 basketball tournament, the eighth of 18 events in this year's Commander's Cup Series.