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NEWS | Feb. 22, 2007

Warhawks win 2nd-straight title

By April Blumer 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

The Lackland Warhawks Men's Varsity Basketball Team won their second-straight Southwest Military Basketball League championship on Sunday when they defeated the Fort Sill, Okla., Cannoneers, 69-64 and 87-69 at Brooks City-Base.

The Cannoneers and Warhawks took to the floor for the first time at 8:30 a.m., both teams fresh off their previous day's wins.

"Fort Sill expects to beat us by 20 points," Jerome Riley, Warhawks head coach, confided prior to the game. However, with hustle and smart play, Riley said his team could take the win.

Fort Sill was projected to be the top seed in the double-elimination tournament.

The Warhawks' Kaleb Goss put the first points on the board in the first 15 seconds of the game, followed up by a tip-in by teammate Paul Parker.

But the Cannoneers' speed and agility proved challenging for the defending champions as the Cannoneers pushed down the court repeatedly without interference from the Warhawks.

With 10 minutes before halftime, both teams started showing fatigue from the earlier scrimmages as hasty ball handling led to loose balls and frequent turnovers.

As the buzzer sounded at halftime, the Warhawks were down 26-30.

The teams came back to the hardwood and the Cannoneers started a hard charge to meet the 20-point lead prediction.

They held the Warhawks back, allowing only one bucket during the first four minutes of the second half, while they landed nearly every basket, including Clarence Travis' and Michael Smith's 3-pointers.

With 10 minutes left in the game and a 17-point deficit lit up on the board, the Warhawks initiated a dramatic comeback.

Successful rebounds and quick-handed steals kept the ball on the Warhawks' end of the court. The team frequently turned to Terry Daniels, who put up six successful shots and sank a free throw during the comeback.

"Way to hustle. Now we're playing," Riley yelled from the sidelines.

The final buzzer sounded with the Warhawks continuing in the winners' bracket, 69-64.

"This was a fast-paced game," said Cannoneers' coach Alec Bradley, before his team played again at 12:30 p.m. "There was a lot of speed and paint play."

"(The Warhawks) played with a lot of heart," Riley said. "Even when we were down by double digits, they hung in there and kept playing."

For the Warhawks, Daniels scored 21 points; Rodrick Greene earned 10 points; Goss put nine points on the board, as did Aaron Winkler with three 3-pointers; Ryan Nichols gave seven points to his team; Parker made three successful 2-point baskets; Lorenzo Smith sank five of his seven free throws for five points; and Eli Lozano made both of his free throws.

The two teams squared off again at 3 p.m. for the championship game.

Facing their third game of the day after beating a lower-bracket team, coach Bradley said his team would have to focus on "defense, defense and scoring" in order to beat the more rested Warhawks for the coveted first-place trophy.

Both teams came out strong and determined for the final game.

The Cannoneers once again moved the ball quickly down court with Earl Moseby, Isaiah Burleson and Brian Johnston landing 12 baskets in the first half.

"We're making small, minute mistakes out there," said the Warhawks' Eli Lozano. "But we're a second-half team. We'll regroup, we'll recover. We're the comeback kids."

The teams retired to their locker rooms at the half with the Cannoneers having a one-basket lead over the Warhawks, 35-33.

The second half of the game was a repeat from earlier in the day as the Warhawks once again controlled the floor, while fatigue from the two earlier games appeared to be settling in on the Cannoneers.

Under Riley's orders to play smart and move the ball, Patrick Stewart and Nichols worked together to put up 13 points in the second half.

Greene, in his final game with the Warhawks, also put 13 points on the board after the half.

The Warhawks ended the tournament as the remaining conference champions, 87-69.

"It feels good to defend something successfully," said Riley. "The guys really hung in there despite some of the calls."

At the conclusion of the tournament, the Warhawks' first-time tournament participant Daniels, from the 314th Military Intelligence Battalion, was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

The highlight of the tournament, according to Daniels, was the comeback in the first game against Fort Sill.

"The whole team played well, but I think they picked the right guy (for the MVP)," said Riley.

Daniels and Greene were also named to the All-Star Tournament Team.