JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. – A newly created basketball team of service members assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord gave a strong showing in a face-off against professional basketball team, the Seattle Super Hawks, at Soldiers Field House on Lewis Main Feb. 25.
Though the game was won by the Super Hawks 108-85, the Soldiers, Airmen and Sailor who made up the JBLM team did not make the win an easy one for their opponent.
The JBLM team made an explosive start in the first half, with a well-executed zone defense that created numerous turnovers and kept the Super Hawks battling to maintain their possessions.
Stand out JBLM players included Randall James, with the 593rd Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, and Mark Christmas with the 1st Battalion, 94th Field Artillery Regiment, 17th Field Artillery Brigade.
With five minutes left in the first half, a two-pointer scored by James brought his team out front in a 32-31 lead over the Super Hawks.
The Super Hawks answered with baskets of their own and the score was tied with two minutes left in the half at 38-38.
By halftime, the JBLM team trailed by only four points with the Super Hawks carrying a 42-46 lead.
While it was clear James possessed incredible basketball skills during the half, he also had great support; an entire cheering squad in the stands comprised of players from his youth basketball team he coaches in DuPont.
Young Preston Johnston, with the help of his younger sister Poppy and baby brother Parker, brought his own handmade signs to hold up and cheer his coach on during the game.
At halftime, Johnston was giving two thumbs up to James’ offensive drives.
“I think he’s doing really good,” Johnston said with a grin.
James said he loved seeing his players and their families cheering him on.
“It’s great to see them come here and support me like I have supported them through our season means a lot,” James said. “They returned the favor and I love it.”
After halftime, the Super Hawks had learned their opponent’s weaknesses and doubled down on their successful three-point shooting game. Despite the JBLM team’s efforts, the Super Hawks began forcing their own turnovers and extending their lead with full-court pressure.
Sixth-graders Jacob Treuting and Dominic Rotante did not know any of the JBLM players personally, but said they attended the game out of excitement to see the two teams face each other. Teammates on their school’s basketball team, the boys offered some insight into ways the JBLM players could improve.
“They’re doing good, but it looks like their defense is starting to struggle this half,” Treuting said.
“They should try to improve ball movement,” Rotante said. “Passing the ball around more would help their defense, I think.”
In the end, the Super Hawks were victorious, but they maintained respect for their opponents.
Super Hawks point guard Justin Moore said the team was not sure what to expect going into the JBLM game and focused on being prepared for a physical battle.
“We all came in thinking, in our minds, that we were going up against guys that are very strong, being that they are all military,” Moore said. “So that’s the mindset that we had, expecting this to be a very physical match – which it was.”
Having just put together the existing team in October 2022, Super Hawks co-owner Jacqueline Yang said the JBLM match was the first time her team has truly scrimmaged against another team, and that it served as a great warm-up before the team kicks off its season officially March 8.
“This was a lot of fun for us,” Yang said. “We definitely see a lot of opportunities to grow our relationship with JBLM and maybe even come back for more events here.”
For the JBLM team, this was also just the beginning.
“We are supposed to play more games, as of now the date is to be determined, but we are looking forward to that,” James said.