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Air Force Men, Navy Women Win Military Basketball Tournament

By U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class John Collins
Special to American Forces Press Service

MILLINGTON, Tenn., May 18, 2009 – The Air Force men’s team and the Navy women’s team took top-place honors in the 22nd annual Armed Forces Basketball Championship at the Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tenn.

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Air Force team member Danny Nwaelele, second lieutenant from Keesler Air Force base, dribbles the ball past a Marine defender during the Gold Medal game against the Marines, May 16, 2009. The Air Force took the gold with a 69-65 win. Nwaelele led his team during the series with a total 74 points in five games. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class John Collins

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The tournament began May 12 and wrapped up late yesterday night. The Air Force men shut out the competition with a record of 6-0, clinching their fourth consecutive title. The Navy women finished up strong with a record of 5-1, taking gold for the second consecutive year.

Air Force forward Jammar Major led the men's team to a fourth consecutive gold medal with 61 points, 30 rebounds, and a free throw average of 75 percent. Major is a senior airman from Hurlburt Field in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. He credits the team's superior conditioning as the main factor for the Air Force's success.

"The last game was a heart-filled game, because the Marines came to play," Major said. "They were all that stood between us and another gold medal, but we finished them off for the gold. I think we are the best conditioned team out here, and that was a huge factor in our win."

The Air Force men's team racked up 377 points and grabbed 180 rebounds during the week-long championship series leading them to a historical fourth title. Head Coach John Bailey has been part of the Air Force team for more than a decade and knew the games would be tough.

"I played on this team for 10 consecutive years, and now I'm coaching," Bailey said. "It's an incredible feat for me. The wins this week were hard fought. Every team came out here and challenged because we had a target on our backs with three-in-a-row gold medals. My guys refused to lose. We stayed with our game plan and prevailed. It's so sweet to win the gold; we left no doubt with our fourth consecutive championship."

Navy guard Syreeta Bromfield-Kemp led the Navy team to gold with 98 points, 73 rebounds, and 13 assists for the week. Bromfield-Kemp, the women’s team captain, is a yeoman 3rd class assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May, N.J. She pushed her teammates hard to win their second gold medal in two years.

"We really did a gut check, and everybody brought something to the games. I'm so proud of the team," Bromfield-Kemp said. "It was awesome this week. It was kind of rough when we started out, but I think we finally realized we could do it, so we came together and we won. It feels so good to get my second gold. Woo!"

The All-Navy women's team dominated the championship series with a team total of 385 points, 231 rebounds, and 65 percent free-throw average. Head coach Samuel Caldwell, who holds the rank of lieutenant, attributed the win to the abilities of the guards.

"The women fought hard this week," Caldwell said. "We knew the Air Force was going to come out and try to be a spoiler by keeping us from making history with back to back gold medals. (Air Force women’s head coach) Dale Carpenter is very capable head coach, I highly respect the guy. I knew he was going to have the Air Force ready to come out to play, but I think we have the best guards here collectively. I think they proved they were the best here with tonight's win and a second gold medal."

Silver medals went to the Air Force women's team with a record of 5-1 and the Marine Corps men's team at 3-3. All Armed Forces teams received a commemorative coin and team photograph from Capt. William McMasters, Naval Support Activity Mid-South commanding officer, during the closing ceremonies.

(U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class John Collins is assigned to Naval Support Activity Mid-South.)

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Related Sites:
Photo Essay: Armed Forces Participate in 2009 Basketball Championship
Photo Essay: Armed Forces 2009 Basketball Championship - Part 2

Click photo for screen-resolution imageU.S. Navy women's team member Arneda Jackson, a third class petty officer from Okinawa, Japan, drives the ball to the basket for two points during a basketball game against the Marines. The Navy women beat the Marines75-47 during the fourth day of games for the Armed Forces Basketball Championship Held at the Naval Support Activity in Millington, Tenn. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class John Collins  
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