***image1***The U.S. Air Forces in Europe Small Units Basketball Championship came to a close March 10 with a local KMC team taking the title.
The Sembach/Vogelweh Tigers, representing the 431st Air Base Group, maneuvered through the tournament flawlessly and finished with a 67-56 victory over the Keflavik Vikings from Iceland.
With the victory, Sembach/Vogelweh claimed their first small units title since 1996.
The Tigers, 7-0 in the tournament, were led in the title game by center Bobby Caldwell, who led all scorers by netting 23 points.
Caldwell was the big scorer for Sembach but guard Kenny Bean was the one who started the Tigers on the path to victory. Bean finished with 14 points, nailing three 3-pointers in the games opening three minutes as the Tigers jumped out to an 11-0 lead.
Keflavik, 4-1 entering the title game, would not go down without a fight. Led by Nate Harvey’s 15 points and Frank Uttley’s 14 points, the Vikings cut their deficit to four points as the game went into the half with Sembach up 28-24.
The second half started with hot three-point shooting by Sembach’s Josh Bruggan and Gerald Herron as the Tigers got their lead back to 11 points with only 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Again, Keflavik fought back, and after a 9-2 run the lead was again dow to four at 50-46 with eight minutes left to play.
Those four points would be the closest the Vikings would get to victory as Sembach continued to slowly pull away as the final minutes ticked away.
“This was the best time I have ever had coaching a sports team,” said Sembach head coach Kyle Jeter. “We put this team together about two weeks before the tournament and starting with the first game we gelled together and made it happen.”
When asked if he thought Sembach and Vogelweh showed they deserve a chance to battle for a large units title, Coach Jeter simply answered, “Without a doubt.”
Following the game, the Small Units All-Tournament team was announced. The players were: Bobby Caldwell (Sembach/Vogelweh), Josh Bruggan (S/V), Kenny Bean (S/V), Nate Harvey (Keflavik), Frank Uttley (Keflavik), Lionel Jennings (Menwith), Terry Daniel (Menwith), Sam Mercedes (Croughton), Dave Phillips (Croughton) and Connell Wright (Geilenkirchen).