By James Brabenec, Fort SillMarch 28, 2013
2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery held off a hot shooting A Battery, 1st Battalion, 56th Air Defense Artillery team, 53-48, to win the intramural basketball championship March 20, 2013, at Rinehart Fitness Center, Fort Sill, Okla.
Coach Larry Anderson said the playoff games provided his team the only chance to see the air defenders in action as the two played in separate conferences during the regular season.
"We knew they would play hard, because last night they showed a lot of hustle and discipline," he said. "We knew they would bring their A game and we would need our A-plus game to beat them."
Pausing before his pregame warmup, Steven Blue, 2-2nd FA point guard, remarked about what his team needed to do to win the game. Based on what he saw of the A/1-56th ADA game March 19, he said his teammates would have to stop their 3-point shooters. As for the FA offense, Blue was confident in their ability to score.
"We've got some big men and like to get them the ball inside. Our second option is for the guards to drive and feed our big men or go strong to the glass and draw fouls," he said.
Blue added Damien Carter, the team's shooting guard, can get hot and continue to pour in the points. Carter played that way in the semi-final match when 2-2nd FA knocked off C Battery, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery.
His teammate Harvey Shaw made his fourth appearance in a championship game hoping to makeup for the three previous disappointments.
"Talent wise we're probably not the best team in this tournament, but we play well as a team and no one cares who scores the most points," he said.
Carlo Sandiego, A/1-56th ADA point guard, said his team would have to play strong defense and communicate to be successful. He added in previous games that stout defense often created fast breaks and easy points in transition.
As for the ADA game plan, coach Arlance Jenkins provided a glimpse.
"They have some really good guards so we'll have to secure the perimeter first then deny them penetration," he said. "Offensively, we need to knock down our shots, take care of the ball and make good decisions all night."
A/1-56th ADA scored the first points on Jonathan Jackson's layup off a fastbreak, but 2-2nd FA answered from outside with three 3-pointers, the last coming from the hands of Carter.
The sudden burst of offense became a theme throughout the contest as the field artillerymen surged ahead before the ADA squad reeled them in again.
With the score 12-11 in favor of 2-2nd FA, the ADA defenders intercepted a pass and fueled a fastbreak. Jackson drove strong to the glass and hit a cross-over layup using the basket to thwart FA shot blockers as ADA took its first lead 13-12.
But, 2-2nd FA went on an 11-0 run to breeze ahead 23-13 before Jackson again stopped the run, this time with a pair of free throws.
The first half whittled down to the final minute when Jones hit a 3-ball to boost the lead to 26-15, that proved to be the final FA contribution. A/1-56th ADA turned up the defensive pressure that caused a near backcourt, 10-second violation. Instead, ADA picked off an errant FA pass. Sandiego wound up with the ball but, rather than play for the last shot, he fired and hit an open 3-pointer to close to 26-18. Additional defensive pressure prevented FA from getting a good shot off as the half ended.
The second stanza started with more ADA offense as Brandon Benefield tipped in a missed shot then launched a 3-pointer that cut the cords and FA lead to 26-23. Moments later, Carlton Jones kept ADA close as he hit one of his four long balls to draw ADA to stay within three at 31-28.
However, 2-2nd FA fired up another 8-0 run to increase the margin to 39-28.
Carter led the surge with a steal that culminated in some scrappy play on the boards and a putback bucket by Justin Wiggins. Then, Carter and Edwards both hit treys, Edwards off a fastbreak.
On defense, the field artillerymen kept ADA center Brett Bernier out of the scorebook. In what had to be a frustrating night, Bernier received the ball with about six minutes left and drove the lane. But, stout defenders altered his shot which missed the mark. In the ensuing fight for the rebound Bernier was called for a foul, his fifth of the game, and an early exit.
Despite the loss, ADA clawed back into the game with tight defense and timely shooting to close the gap to 39-36. However, that would be as close as the team would get to drawing even.
2-2nd FA continued to penetrate to the basket and draw fouls, which decided the contest. The field artillerymen hit a shade under 60 percent of their free throws compared to ADA which was perfect from the charity stripe. However, FA shot 31 free throws versus ADA's eight. The air defenders relied much more on outside jump shots that often didn't involve contact.
Edwards led 2-2nd FA with 18 points hitting three 3-pointers and 5-7 foul shots. Carter added 13 with seven of those points coming from the foul line, and Shaw contributed 12.
Benefield had the hot hand for ADA with 21 points. Jones nailed four 3-pointers for 12 points before fouling out late in the game.