By Tim HippsMay 19, 2009
MILLINGTON, Tenn. (Army News Service, May 19, 2009) -- Sgt. Shamyra "Lil Bit" Daigle brought the biggest game to the All-Army women's 74-70 victory over All-Navy in the 2009 Armed Forces Basketball Championships, May 16, at Naval Support Activity Mid-South.
Daigle, who insists that she measures all of 60 inches and 105 pounds, seemingly played larger than a 5-foot guard against women from the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps who were head-and-shoulders taller.
"We call her Lil Bit," All-Army women's coach Capt. Mark Knight said. "She's five-foot-nothing. They tower over her. She's probably 4-11-and-some-change, but that Soldier is solid and full of intestinal fortitude.
"If Lil Bit sees somebody two-thirds of the way up the court, she will make it her sole goal to catch up and steal that ball from behind. You've just got to unleash her and let her go.
"She's the best defensive point guard I've ever seen. I've never seen anybody who can track down people that well. She's lightning fast."
Throughout the six-day tournament, Knight employed Daigle against the opponents' best offensive threat at guard, regardless of size.
Lil Bit converted two steals into breakaway layups that helped All-Army maintain control midway through the second half against All-Navy, followed by a nifty assist at breakneck speed off another fast break.
"I'm like faster than the ball," said Daigle, 24, a native of Lafayette, La., who is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C. "So it's just about me controlling myself when I get the ball."
Spc. Aquanita Burras, another guard from Fort Bragg who played for the University of Kansas, led All-Army against All-Navy with a game-high 27 points.
Capt. Caitlin Chiaramonte, 29, who played collegiately for Richmond and Fordham, professionally for three teams overseas, and is now stationed at Fort Benning, Ga., had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Pfc. Theais Edmonds, one of Daigle's teammates on Fort Bragg's post-level team, added 15 points and 13 rebounds.
But when push came to shove and All-Navy guard Erica Bouttry squared up for a potential game-tying 3-pointer in the waning seconds, Daigle dashed in seemingly from nowhere and cleanly blocked the shot.
Daigle was fouled during the ensuing loose-ball scramble and a technical foul was assessed against All-Navy's bench for arguing the call.
"It's about quickness," Daigle said. "When you get beat, you've got to be able to move your feet quick to get back and stop her again. That's all it is about - quickness and moving your feet - just keep playing defense."
Daigle sank one of two free throws to thwart All-Navy's comeback with 2.5 seconds left. For good measure, Daigle stole All-Navy's final inbound pass and was poked in the eye as the final horn sounded.
"What a Cinderella story," Knight exclaimed. "She won the game for us. You couldn't have scripted it any better. When the game is on the line, she tends to show up. She definitely shows up on the defensive side, but this time she showed up offensively just as well - just an outstanding athlete.
"You don't expect that kind of electricity and lightning coming out of someone so small. And when you see it, you're in awe."
Daigle has heard it all before - things like "'She ain't nothing but three feet, why you let her just go straight to the hole'' and 'you can't stop her,' just stuff like that," she said.
During training camp, the All-Army women played against three pro-am teams - the New York Gazelles, Baltimore Stars and D.C. Blue Streak - and split a pair of games with the Washington Area Military Athletic Conference All-Stars.
"We played three solid games in New York City the last weekend before coming here," Knight said. "So I felt very confident in what we had."
The All-Army team then headed to Tennessee to take on the best from its sister services. They wound up in third place with a 3-3 record. Although they defeated All-Marine Corps twice, their highlight was the Saturday night victory over host All-Navy.
"It really probably didn't change our outcome in the tournament standings, but it definitely can change theirs," Chiaramonte said of All-Navy, which won its second consecutive Armed Forces title with a 70-62 victory over All-Air Force on Sunday. "It's nice to be able to come in here and make some noise and lift this tournament up. That got everyone excited."
So did Daigle.
"Yeah, she thinks she's 5 feet tall, but I think she's 4-11," Chiaramonte said. "She is sort of the engine for our team. She never quits and she keeps us going. When she gets some steals and gets things going, she's an energizer buddy.
"She lights it up in the second half; that's her thing. She doesn't reserve energy - she just takes it to another level. Tonight, for it to end with a blocked shot by her, just sort of sums up our team. It was nice to have it end that way."
Daigle, Chiaramonte, Burras and Staff Sgt. Tarina Lloyd of Ansbach, Germany, were selected to represent All-Army on the All-Armed Forces team, scheduled to compete Aug. 7-9 at the Tournament of the Stars Basketball Classic in Lake Charles, La.
(Tim Hipps writes for the Family and MWR Command Public Affairs Office.)