By Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The Space Innovation and Development Center capped an undefeated season with a 54-44 win over the 3rd Space Operations Squadron in the intramural basketball championship game at the fitness center Feb. 19.
A 10-0 run to start the second half gave SIDC an 18-point lead and essentially put the game away.
“I knew we started the second half well, but I didn’t track that it was 10-0,” said Deane Lake, one of SIDC’s captains.
The half belonged almost entirely to SIDC as they held 3 SOPS, playing in its fourth straight championship game, to just nine points through 15 minutes. During that time, SIDC was able to connect on three 3-pointers and Lake put down his second dunk of the game.
“They’re a great team and we didn’t get off to the start that we wanted to in the second half,” said 3 SOPS’s Joe Cha. “They did, and they carried that momentum through the half.”
“We have a very deep, talented team of unselfish players who share the ball and play the game the right way,” said SIDC co-captain Shawn Green. “We just started clicking (in the second half), we got into our game.”
The start of the game was vastly different as 3 SOPS jumped out to an early 8-3 lead, while SIDC looked to have a case of the jitters. 3 SOPS player-coach Gerardo Andujar-Siaca said he felt 3 SOPS’s prior title game experience allowed them to overcome any early nervousness.
“We have a number of players who have been playing for us for a few years, we know each other and know our chemistry,” Andujar-Siaca said. “We started playing outstanding basketball, passing the ball, hitting key spots and players and finding the open man. In the second half, we didn’t do those things.”
Through the first 10 minutes of the first half, 3 SOPS looked poised to play the role of spoiler as SIDC looked to finish the season with a perfect 16-0 record. 3 SOPS connected on two 3-pointers to help build its early lead.
With 11:30 left to play in the half, SIDC’s John Engesser completed a three-point play to give SIDC its first lead of the game. During the next two minutes, the teams traded baskets with SIDC grabbing an 11-10 lead at the 10-minute mark. It was the closest the teams would be for the rest of the game.
With just more than two minutes to go in the half, Lake threw down his first dunk of the game, giving SIDC a 26-19 lead and firing up SIDC fans.
Trailing 28-20 with 30 seconds left in the half, 3 SOPS found itself the victim of the running clock. SIDC committed a foul, and by the time the referee reported the foul and made the ball ready to play, 3 SOPS had only two seconds left to inbound and try to get a shot off.
“There was a lot of confusion on the court at the time,” Andujar-Siaca said. “The referee took a little bit of time to report the foul and I was out of timeouts. It happens, it’s part of the game and it’s not an excuse.”
3 SOPS didn’t get its first points of the second half until the five-minute mark, at which point, SIDC’s 16-point lead was insurmountable.
“Our defense dropped off a little bit in the second half and they kind of took advantage,” Andujar-Siaca said.
He added he knew they wanted to play man-to-man defense against SIDC and the low number of players and having played the two previous days finally caught up to 3 SOPS.
Green said things came together for SIDC once they were able to find their flow for the game.
3 SOPS was able to trim the deficit down to 10 points as SIDC let some shots go uncontested during the final two minutes, as it looked to run the clock to zero.
3 SOPS’s Tyrelle Shepherd led all scorers with 14 points, hitting three 3-pointers in the second half. Cha added 10 points and Clint Swalls chipped in eight points in the defeat.
Engesser was the only SIDC player to reach double-digits with 10 points. Lake had nine points and Green, Michael Allen and Anthony Cotton all finished with eight points.
“If you showed us the box scores for all the games this year, we’ve had five or six different high scorers throughout the year,” Green said. “Any single player on this team is capable of being the leading scorer.”
Andujar-Siaca said he expects 3 SOPS to carry the disappointment from this game into next season and contend for the base basketball championship again next year.
“We have pretty good chemistry and hopefully, we’ll be (in the title game) again,” he said. “I want to say thank you to all the players for their effort and especially to the unit members who came out to support us today.”
Both Green and Lake said they’ll have to wait to see what the roster looks like before having any expectations for next season.
“We all love the game of basketball and we’re really lucky to get out here and come play ball at 11 in the morning during the duty day,” Green said. “(The 50th Space Wing commander) has given us that privilege. Our expectations are to come out here, give our best and bring out the best in one another. No promises for next year, we’re just going to enjoy this championship.”