Story and photos by Walt Johnson
Military women basketball players took the floor of the Pepsi Center as guests of the
Denver Nuggets in Denver March 17 and put on a dazzling display of what military toughness and determination was all about.
The Nuggets organization reached out to the military community and invited two local installations to send women’s teams to play a game prior to the Nuggets contest with the New Orleans Hornets.
The ladies wanted to show the Nuggets on the floor that they appreciated their welcome and show them what military women’s basketball is all about.
The Fort Carson Lady Lions defeated the Air Force Academy Huskies Prep School team 66-60 in a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type performance for the Lady Lions and the Huskies. Both teams took turns not looking like themselves during the contest, the Lady Lions in the first half and Huskies in the second half.
In what turned out to be as complex and exciting as any game you may see, the Lady Lions came into the game looking to see how well they could compete against a college-level team filled with gifted athletes who will comprise the Air Force Academy team next year.
In the first half it looked like it was the worst idea for the Lady Lions to accept the game. The Huskies were the more cohesive team, and it showed throughout the first half as the Air Force team got out to a 13-point halftime lead that seemed like 30 points the way the game was playing out. The Air Force team was outplaying the Army team and it was totally out of character for an Army team coached by Stephanie Timmons.
Timmons’ teams are so well respected in the Colorado area that junior college teams seek them out to play games during the year. That is because Timmons’ teams are well disciplined and fundamentally sound. In the first half the discipline was there but the fundamentals of the game were missing. The Lady Lions missed layups and short jump shots all through the first half as the Air Force team raced to its lead.
When the Lady Lions left the court for halftime, one could see that Timmons was uncharacteristically upset at her team’s play. She let her team know in no uncertain terms that the way they played was not acceptable, and they would make some changes in the second half.
“I was a little upset when we went into the locker room at halftime. I wasn’t upset at the ladies but I was upset at the way we played the game. We did not play Lady Lion basketball in the first half, so I told my team that we were going to shorten the substitution pattern and get back to playing Lady Lion basketball in the second half,” Timmons said.
Timmons may want to get a recording of what she said to motivate the Lady Lions because the second half turned out to be a complete reversal for the Lady Lions. The layups and short shots that were missed in the first half began to fall and the defensive intensity that is usually played by the Lady Lions appeared. Before the second half was halfway over the Lady Lions had seized control of the contest and cruised to victory.
Angela Goodman, who led the second-half comeback by the Lady Lions, said the team plays better in the second half of games which explains why they start so slowly in the first half.
“We’re more of a second-half team than we are a first half team. It seems like we play the first half to find our rhythm and then we are able to play better in the second half of games. After the first half we were more frustrated than discouraged. We knew that we were a better team than we showed and, we had practiced so hard over the past month that we wanted to play better in the first half. We felt like we were in control of the game about seven minutes into the half, after we made some threes and our defensive intensity picked up,” Goodman said.
Rod Smith, Lady Lion’s assistant coach said his team tapped into a proven method in the second half to turn the game back in the Army team’s favor. He said the team understood it had to challenge more shots than it did in the first half and get back to playing like it normally does and not like the team that took the floor for the first half.
“This was a really big victory for us. We looked at this as a huge opportunity for us to show what Lady Lion basketball is all about,” Smith said. “We came out and played with the Army Strong mentality because we wanted to show that military professional ladies can also play the game of basketball at a very competitive level. We wanted to make sure that we set an example for the younger ladies that watch us play that you, too, can do this.”