By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterMarch 22, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Mar. 22, 2012) -- The Showstoppers showed their stopping power by winning the final game of the 2012 Fort Rucker Intramural Basketball Post Championship to take the title as post champions against Fired Up at the Fort Rucker Physical Fitness Facility March 15.
"This win makes me feel great," said Josh Davis, coach for the Showstoppers. "We worked all year last year and we should have had it, but we didn't. I put a couple of guys together, and at first they didn't have what it takes and we had to get the fundamentals down, but we worked together and [a win] was the outcome."
The two teams went head-to-head in the final game of the double-elimination tournament with Fired Up keeping the Showstoppers on their toes by winning the first of the two games.
In the first game of the night, the Showstoppers scored the first goal, started to gain momentum and pulled a lead against their opponents as they sank three 3-pointers in a row after a string of turnovers by Fired Up.
Although falling more than 10-points behind, Fired Up wasn't giving up as they continually closed the gap and managed to stay within 6 points of their opponents for most of the first half.
After finally closing the gap, Craig Kuphall, player for Fired Up, sank a 3-pointer to put his team ahead at the end of the first half, 32-30.
Fired Up retained their strong offense well into the second half, maintaining their lead with two baskets scored within the first few seconds of the half, but the Showstoppers hadn't given up yet as they closed the gap between them and the game became very close for the rest of the half with neither team taking more than a 1-point lead for the majority of the second half.
Fired Up managed to take the win for the first game of the night 63-62, sending the teams into a second game for the championship title.
The second game started with Fired Up scoring the first goal and trying to set the pace for the rest of the game. The Showstoppers wouldn't be caught falling too far behind; however, as they began to sink shots and Davis hit a 3-pointer to put his team back in front.
Fired Up finally managed to tie the game, which remained tied throughout much of the first half with neither team able to score on the other's defense.
The Showstoppers finally broke the stagnation; however, as they brought the more aggressive offense and pulled ahead of Fired Up who couldn't seem to get past their opponent's defense to close the growing gap between the two teams, allowing the Showstoppers to lead by more than 10 points at the end of the first half, 34-19.
During the second half, Fired Up was determined to stay in the game as they scored the first shots in the second half in an attempt to close the now 15-point scoring gap.
Their momentum didn't seem to be enough as the Showstoppers offense began to match their pace by keeping a healthy lead of 10 points throughout the majority of the half.
With less than two minutes left in the game, Fired Up's offense became too aggressive committing multiple fouls that led to numerous free throw attempts and stretched the Showstoppers lead.
The Showstoppers superior defense, aggressive offense and ability to keep Fired Up at bay led to their ultimate victory as post champions, winning the final game 43-61.
"Coming into the season, we didn't know how to play defense very well," said Davis. "Our strategy was to learn each other's techniques and figure out who the shooters were -- go to the movers and make sure we get the ball down low."
"Our chemistry was great," said Tony Hart, player and season MVP for the Showstoppers. "We started off sluggish, but we came together as a team and we put everything together and made it work."
Hart was named season MVP for averaging about 25 points per game, said Davis, adding that "he always brings us out of the hole every time we get down."
Mark Hill, player for the Showstoppers, had to sit out the final games due to an injury he sustained in previous games, but expressed his excitement as his team took the championship.
"I was actually excited about this win because I think we should have won last year, but this year we actually came all the way with it," he said. "This was a great team, so this was a great experience and I just hate that I couldn't play during the playoffs. I played when it counted to make our season good, so, I'm happy with that."