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Army Women Romp to 1997 Basketball Title, 85-47

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 14, 1997 – Three-point shooting, front-court dominance and full-court pressure defense paced the Army women's team to another armed forces basketball championship. Army defeated Air Force 85-47 in the title game April 9 at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.

Army breezed through the three-day round-robin tournament at 3-0, and smashed the Marine Corps 91-59 to earn a finals position. Air Force (3-2) finished second, earning a finals berth by edging Navy 55-48 in the semifinals. Navy took third place, defeating Marine Corps 64-56 in the tournament consolation game. Navy finished 2-3 overall, while the Marines went winless.

Army's full-court defense in the title game pressured Air Force guards into committing backcourt turnovers -- mistakes converted into three-point baskets. "We knew that if we put the pressure on them early, we would tire them out by halftime," said 1st Sgt. Larry Morrisey of Fort Bragg, N.C., Army's assistant head coach. "We played man-to-man pressure defense from the opening tap and forced their guards into committing turnovers."

Thanks to the full-court pressure, Army opened a 43-31 halftime lead. Using a variety of picks and screens, Army players freed Sgt. Sharon Lyons and Staff Sgt. Cassandra Howard to connect on open jump shots.

Lyons, a Fort Hood, Texas, guard, connected on six of 11 three-point field goal attempts in the game -- most coming in the first half -- to help Army build its first-half margin. Howard, Lyon's backcourt partner, also showed good range, hitting most of her 14 points in the opening period.

In the second half, Air Force tried to tighten its coverage on the two guards, but found Army working the ball inside for easy buckets. Army started the second half with a 11-0 scoring run, boosting it to a 23-point lead with 15 minutes remaining. "They [Air Force] were tired," said Morrisey. "Their fatigue was showing, and that opened them up inside for our frontline scorers. Once we started getting the lay-ups and the fouls, we knew we had the game locked."

The Army defense continued its pressure defense, keeping Air Force away from its basket. The trio of Spc. Sylvia Smith (Kaiserslautern, Germany), Capt. Candice Tillman (Bragg) and Pfc. Darice Taylor (Fort Polk, La.) equaled Air Force's entire rebounding effort, snaring 24 boards among them in the final. Army outrebounded Air Force 42-24.

At the same time, Army kept Air Force's 6-foot, 5-inch Airman 1st Class Tonya McKoy (Pope Air Fore Base, N.C.) from contributing offense and rebounding. "We had our concerns about her," said Morrisey, but added Army players double-teamed her inside to stop her low-post game.

With Army dominating the front court, Air Force had to shoot from the outside -- a move that proved costly. Despite taking 51 shots, Air Force converted less than 30 percent. Air Force was four of 11 from beyond the three-point line.

Lyons led all scorers with 23 points -- 18 coming from three-point shots. Howard nailed 7 of 13 shots in scoring 14 points and Staff Sgt. Rulesha McKinney of Wuerzburg, Germany, added eight. Staff Sgt. Pricilla Sweeney (Memphis Air National Guard Base, Tenn.) led Air Force scorers with 11 points -- seven coming from the free throw line.

In the consolation game, Navy recovered from a 30-27 halftime deficit to keep the Marine Corps winless and take third place. Petty Officer 3rd Class Helen Brown (USS Emory S. Land) paced Navy with 13 points, while Petty Officer 2nd Class Sandra King (North Island Naval Air Station, Calif.) and Petty Officer 3rd Class LaShawn Brown (USS Emory S. Land) added eight each.

Cpl. Linda Richmond of Camp Lejeune, N.C., led the Marines with 10 points, while Staff Sgts. Cassandra Best and Yvette Bennett added nine each.

Of the 12 players earning spots on the U.S. military team slated to compete at the U.S. national championships April 24-27 at Fort Hood, Texas, seven are Army. Selected were Lyons, McKinney, Howard, Taylor, Smith, Capt. Kim Kawamoto (Bragg) and 2nd Lt. Countess Irvin (Hood).

Three Navy and two Marine Corps players will join the squad. Staff Sgt. Carlotta Moore of Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Air Station, Hawaii, and Sgt. Trina Allen of Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, N.C., will travel to Texas. They will join Petty Officer 2nd Class Sandra King of North Island, Seaman Mildred Conston of Pearl Harbor Naval Complex, Hawaii, and Seaman Shenita Waddel, also of North Island.

Air Force players are forgoing the trip to Hood. Steve Brown of the Air Force sports office in San Antonio, said the selection panel considered a pair of Air Force players. Yet prior to the start of the tournament most Air Force players declined invitations for further competition, with decisions based on career schools, medical appointments and duty commitments.

Sgt. 1st Class Johnnie Pickett of Hood will coach the DoD squad, along with Morrisey and Lee Williams, a civilian from Camp Lejeune, N.C., as his assistants.Championship Game

Army (85)

Countess Irvin 1-3 2-2 5, Cassandra Howard 7-13 0-0, 14, Sharon Lyons 6-12 5-6 23, Sylvia Smith 2-6 1-2 5, Felicia Griffin 1-4 1-2 3, Kim Kawamoto 2-5 0-0 6, Tonya Stubs 0-1 0-0 0, Demetria Strickland 1-1 3-6 5, Candice Tillman 1-3 2-2 4, Rulesha McKinney 4-6 0-0 8, Darice Taylor 2-5 2-5 6, Geneda Graddick 1-5 4-6, 6. Totals: 28-64 20-31 85.

Air Force (47)

Felicia Young 0-0 0-0 0, Rachel Ramsdale 1-4 0-0 3, Renec McClennon 1-3 0-0 2, Sherry Crowder 0-3 1-3 1, Tonia Bennett 0-0 0-0 0, Lynitta McCoy 1-4 0-0 2, Pamela Noble 1-5 2-2 4, Pricilla Sweeney 0 0-0 0, Tonya McKoy 2-8 0-3 4, Jennifer Patrick 3-7 0-1 9, Mary Kay Poppe 3-7 1-2 7, Juanita Osby 1-3 2-3 4. Totals: 15-51 13-23, 47.

Halftime -- Army 43, Air Force 31. Three-point goals -- Lyons 6, Patrick 3, Kawamoto 2, Irvin, Ramsdale. Rebounds -- Army 41 (Smith 9), Air Force 24 (McKoy 7). Total Fouls -- Army 24, Air Force 24. Fouled Out: Taylor.Consolation Game

Navy (64)

Odetta Johnson-Shepherd 2-7 0-0 6, Winifred Brandon 2-6 0-0 5, Helen Brown 5-6 3-5 13, Joyce Falls 2-3 0-2 4, Sandra King 3-7 2-2 8, Sheila Huff 1-5 0-0 2, LaShawn Brown 3-6 2-2 8, Mildred Conston 1-8 2-2 4, Jean Simmons 2-4 0-0 4, Hazel Carrington 2-5 0-0 4, Shenita Waddel 2-3 0-0 4, Cathy Vaughn 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 26-61 9-13 64.

Marine Corps (56)

Julie Snyder 0-0 0-0 0, Linda Richmond 2-11 5-7 10, Ammie Norris 0-0 0-0 0, Carlotta Moore 2-12 4-6 8, Jennifer Ross 0-0 0-0 0, Tangie Norris 1-8 3-5 5, Patricia Malone 0-0 2-2 2, Andrea Smith 3-9 1-3 7, Trinia Allen 3-11 0-1 6, Pamela Jones 0-10 0-0 0, Yvette Bennett 4-7 1-1 9, Cassandra Best 3-10 3-4 9. Totals: 18-78 19-29 56.

Halftime -- Marine Corps 30, Navy 27. Three-point goals -- Johnson-Shepherd 2, Brandon, Richmond. Rebounds: Navy 42 (L. Brown 7), Marine Corps 43 (Best 11). Total Fouls -- Navy 22, Marine Corps 13. Fouled Out: None.

Tournament Results

Preliminaries

Air Force 69, Navy 60

Army 69, Marine Corps 38

Air Force 58, Marine Corps 47

Army 103, Navy 68

Navy 50, Marine Corps 42

Army 60, Air Force 39

Semifinals

Army 91, Marine Corps 59

Air Force 55, Navy 48

Consolation

Navy 64, Marine Corps 56

Championship

Army 85, Air Force 47

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