Navy Captures Men's Basketball Title
By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 18, 1996 A balanced scoring attack and tough man-to-man defense paced Navy to the 1996 armed forces men's basketball championship at Camp Lejeune, N.C., recently.
Using double-figure performances from five players, Navy (3-0) captured the 1996 hoop title with a 87-72 victory over Air Force (2-2). Marine Corps (1-2) finished third, while Army (0-2) -- the defending champions -- finished last. This year the tournament was a double elimination competition.
Navy coach Chief Warrant Officer Bernard Boston said victory this year came from lessons learned in 1995, when Army's 111-106 win showed him areas Navy needed to improve.
"You always try to learn from the past and prevent [mistakes] from happening again," said Boston, assigned at the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine. "We saw we had to select talented players who were coachable, then prepare them physically for 40 fast-paced minutes a game."
Boston said he went on a talent search. During the three-week camp at Cecil Field Naval Air Station, Fla., he selected 12 players who could play his run-oriented offense and play man-to-man defense the entire game.
He said he also wanted players with character -- players who would listen to coaching and dedicate themselves to the cause. "I hand-picked my team with players who could play under my rules and my coaching," said Boston. "As a result, we had disciplined players who competed incident-free and as a team."
Key to Navy's win was a full-court press Boston said University of Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson would be proud of. Richardson's Razorbacks, the 1994 college basketball champions, used a 40-minute full-court press against opponents in winning their national title.
"We hit Air Force with a press every time we scored a bucket, and we kept that up the entire [championship] game," he said. "If they got the ball across midcourt, they saw man-to-man pressure all the way to the basket. They didn't get a defensive break, and eventually that caused turnovers we used to win the game."
Navy opened an eight-point halftime lead at 40-32. Petty Officer 1st Class Gerald Rooks (Naval Reserve Personnel Center, New Orleans) dominated first-half play for Navy, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the opening period. He also blocked two shots and grabbed six rebounds.
Rooks got help from Petty Officer 3rd Class Tilman Bevely (Cecil Field), who nailed 10 of his 15 points in the first half.
Air Force trailed only 18-16 after the first 10 minutes as Staff Sgt. Mark Forbes (Hurlburt Field, Fla.) battled Rooks under the boards. Forbes scored nine of his team-high 16 points in the opening period and got help from forwards Capt. Steven Warrior (Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.) and Senior Airman Troy Miles (Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.). Warrior and Miles combined for 10 more points as Air Force remained close at the half.
However, the Navy's second-half pressure defense allowed it to open the lead. Petty Officers 2nd Class Jeffrey Johnson (New Orleans) and Myron Jackson (USS Thomas S. Gates) harassed Air Force guards into turnovers. This led to a 32-20 run in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
While leading the defense, Johnson also paced Navy's offense. He canned three three-pointers and scored 17 of his game-high 19 points in the second period.
While Rooks continued to control the backboards, Navy got inside help from Petty Officer 3rd Class John Jackson of San Diego Naval Base. The 6-foot-5-inch forward grabbed seven rebounds, blocked a shot and scored 11 of his 15 points -- most in the final minutes.
In winning the championship, Navy first bounced Army 98-89, then upended Air Force 70-67 in the semifinals. Air Force beat Marine Corps twice, winning its opening game 102-77, then eliminating the Marines in the tournament semifinals, 107-87.
After the tournament, the armed forces sports committee selected its players for the 1996 Conseil Internationale du Sport Militaire tournament at Fort Hood, Texas, later this month. Boston will coach the squad.
Navy players earning positions are Johnson, Bevely, Rooks, Myron and John Jackson, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Hazziez Robinson (U.S. Navy-Europe). Boston's assistant coach, Chief Petty Officer Richard Green (New Orleans), and trainer Petty Officer 1st Class Randall Russell of Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Ill., also earned spots.
Despite losing its only two games, Army placed four players on the squad: Sgt. Carl Curry of Fort Sill, Okla.; Sgt. Lee Brown of Fort Clayton, Panama; Spc. Cedric Dennis of Wuerzburg, Germany, and Pfc. Kaylon Green of Fort Riley, Kan.
Army added two Fort Hood soldiers to the CISM squad. Spc. Eric McLaughlin, unavailable for the 1996 armed forces tournament due to an injury, earned a slot on the players' roster. McLaughlin paced the 1995 U.S. CISM basketball team to a silver medal at the 1995 World Military Games in Rome. Spc. Carl Sheppard will assist Russell as a trainer.
Air Force placed 2nd Lt. Christopher Loll of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo., and Staff Sgt. Kyle James of Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., on the team. Marine Corps added Sgt. Scotty Mills (Camp Butler, Okinawa) and Lance Cpl. Robert Spears (Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, N.C.)
Myron Jackson 4 2-2 10, Jeffrey Johnson 7 2-2 19, Hazziez
Robinson 2 0-0 4, George Madison 0 0-0 0, Wilson Carter 0 0-0 0,
Tilman Bevely 5 3-3 15, Howard Jones 0 0-0 0, Gerald Rooks 7 0-6
14, Edwin Powers 2 0-0 4, Eric Fritz 1 4-6 6, Theodore Williams 0
0-0 0, John Jackson 7 1-2 15. Totals: 25 12-21 87
Air Force (72)
James Armstrong 0 0-0 0, Kelvin Belvens 1 1-2 3, James
Watley 1 0-0 2, Kyle James 1 0-0 2, Troy Miles 3 0-0 9, Steven
Warrior 3 0-0 6, Marvin Hires 2 2-2 8, Christopher Loll 3 5-6 11,
Sam Coger 1 0-0 2, Michael Owens 3 2-4 8, Sterling Collins 1 3-4
5, Mark Forbes 7 1-2 16. Totals: 26 14-20 72.
Halftime -- Navy 40, Air Force 32. Three-point goals --
Johnson 3, Bevely 2, Myles 3, Hires 2, Forbes. Fouled Out --
Williams. Total Fouls -- Air Force 21, Navy 21.
Air Force 102, Marine Corps 77
Navy 98, Army 89
Marine Corps 103, Army 96 (Army eliminated)
Navy 70, Air Force 67
Air Force 107, Marine Corps 87 (Marines eliminated)
Navy 87, Air Force 72 (Air Force eliminated