SEMBACH, Germany -- There is a tradition in college basketball known as "March Madness" where teams compete in a tournament to win a championship. For the Soldiers of the 18th Military Police Brigade and the Airmen assigned to the 435th Security Forces Squadron a similar tradition has begun.

The 18th MP Bde. hosted the first Sembach Invitational Basketball Tournament on Sembach Kaserne, March 31, where six teams from Sembach, Heidelberg and Mannheim representing the Air Force security forces, the U.S. Army Contracting Agency, Europe, and the Army military police, contended in a battle of the services for bragging rights and a trophy.

The teams were divided into two brackets. The teams in each bracket played against each other in 20-minute games. The top four teams then advanced to the semi-finals, similar to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.
During the tournament, the 529th MP Company defeated the 435th SFS in the semi-finals 36-18, and the brigade headquarters team defeated Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 95th MP Battalion, 43-36 to advance to the semi-finals.

A motivated 529th MP Co. defeated an exhausted brigade headquarters team 53-31 for the championship.

This was redemption for the 529th MP Co., after losing the flag football championship to the Air Force in the Sembach Invitational Football Tournament, held in November. The tournaments have sparked a friendly rivalry between the services, and many are anticipating the next one.

"It was pretty cool to do the Army versus Air Force thing," said Staff Sgt. Bryan Meraz of the 435th SFS and a native of New Haven, Ind. "This set up a rivalry. They wanted to beat us, and we wanted to beat them."

Jeff Thomas, an operations specialist with the 18th MP Bde., arranged the tournament in an ongoing commitment to bring something to the growing community of Sembach. These tournaments are building blocks in an effort to make Sembach a large cohesive community, which is the vision of Col. Brian Bisacre, the commander of the 18th MP Bde.

"Now that an Army unit has won the basketball tournament, the Air Force will be waiting in the wings to try and win another championship," said Thomas. "After the flag football tournament Soldiers and Airmen couldn't wait for the basketball tournament."

This summer the 18th MP Bde., will host its first softball tournament and continue the friendly the rival of the services.