By Jim Dresbach, Pentagram Staff Writer February 22, 2013
The Fort Myer Lady Generals' business is finished this 2012-2013 basketball season.
The Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall women's basketball team ended half a decade of Capital Classic tournament dominance Feb. 18 with a string of convincing wins against east coast military squads, including perennial women's champ, the Fort Lee Travelers, to capture the 2013 championship.
"The difference between this team and last year's team was that this year's team is more athletic," Fort Myer women's coach Reggie Darden said of his squad after the four-day JBM-HH tournament was concluded."We have better players; we have better perimeter players. Last year's team was a little bigger and a little slower."
Competing in pool play Feb. 16, the Lady Generals cruised to the semifinals with a 73-42 win over Dover AFB and a 90-22 thrashing of Camp Lejeune. Waiting for the Generals in the final four were the women from Fort Belvior.
But Myer lady dead-eye shooters Erneisha Bailey, Keyanna Wakefield, three-point contest champ Regina Nolting and Charli Cummins were dialed in from the perimeter, and when a lethal fast break was added to the equation, the Myer females meant nothing but business. When the 40 minutes of the 81-68 victory were finished, Syreeta Bromfield led all scorers against Belvior, while Bailey downed 23 points and Wakefield was not far behind with 18.
With Fort Lee's 60-52 triumph over Fort Bragg, a female championship rematch was set for Feb. 18 at the Fort Myer Fitness Center. After a tight first nine minutes of the opening half, the Myer women broke the game open with a stingy defense and a lightning-quick fast break.
Leading by four at the 11-minute mark, Bailey converted a jumper after a Wakefield pass. On the next Fort Lee possession, Cummins' steal started an up-tempo break, which ended with Bailey's quick touch pass to Bromfield for an easy layup. A minute later, another Bailey jumper provided Myer with a 25-15, double-digit lead.
"Between the facts that they weren't hitting their shots and we were getting layups with touch passes, that took some of the steam out of them," Darden said. "When they were shooting thirty percent or whatever and we're shooting eighty percent on lay-ups, that will take the wind out of their sails."
In the second half, Myer improved its lead to 15 after Wakefield found a back-cutting Bromfield on the baseline for a close-range field goal and with Darden urging the players to "turn it up right now," Bailey's offensive rebound and put-back gave the Lady Generals a 50-30 advantage.
"The Bailey girl and Wakefield played very well together," Fort Lee coach Marvin Michael said. "We matched up better against [Fort Myer] last year, but we had a key injury [Kimberly Smith], who truly would have made a difference in the game [this year]. Plus, two of my players weren't here due to military obligations."
The 64-40 championship final score brought the female Capital Classic trophy to JBM-HH turf for the first time in five years. Bailey finished the championship encounter with 23 points while Wakefield connected for 11. Bailey, a Generals newcomer, was named the female tournament's most valuable player. She noted that she was fortunate to have the opportunity to play with the JBM-HH squad.
"I'm shocked; I'm very grateful," Bailey said of her MVP title. "My teammates really did a great job of helping me out this weekend, and I didn't want to do too much because I was coming into a team I never played on before. For them to have confidence in me and telling me to shoot was a blessing."
In attendance for championship Monday were JBM-HH Commander Col. Fern O. Sumpter and Command Sgt. Maj. Earlene Lavender; the colonel saluted the Lady Generals with a bonding post-game trophy presentation following the 24-point championship game victory.
"It was wonderful to cheer on our home team, the JBM-HH Generals," said Sumpter. "Especially our Lady Generals who took the championship title from Fort Lee, a team of highly skilled lady 'ballers' who before now have been successful at holding the top position of Capital Classic Champion.
"The players -- men and women -- really proved that they are the best players in this region," Sumpter added.
"All of the games were hard fought with a level of sportsmanship found nowhere else. It was my distinct honor to present each of the winning teams and individual champions with a Capital Classic trophy or an individual award." The women's all-tournament team included Myer's Bromfield, Wakefield and Cummins and Lee's Keisha Monroe and Nicki Lee.