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442nd team wins intramural basketball championship

  • Published
  • By Maj. David Kurle
  • 442nd Fighter Wing public affairs
The 442nd Fighter Wing's over-30 intramural basketballers took home the Whiteman Air Force Base championship trophy for the fourth time in five years Feb. 15 in the base gym. 

The 442nd defeated the 509th Security Forces Squadron 41 to 32 at the end of regulation in a game marked by tenacious defense by both teams and a physical fourth quarter as the cops' team tried to rally.

It was a victory made sweeter after last year's loss in the championship game to the 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron and by the fact that the 442nd's only defeat earlier in the 2007 season was at the hands of the very same SFS squad they faced in this year's championship game.

"This win really felt good, probably because we lost last year," said Carl Clark, the 442nd team's player-coach. "We've been in the championship game five years in a row and we like winning.

"I was nervous last night because we had lost to this team in the regular season," he said.
The first quarter was dominated by the fighter wing's defense, which allowed only two points in the first, nine-minute quarter.

"We changed our defense just for this game," said Jeff Pahl, who led the 442nd in scoring with 18 for the game including four, three-pointers. "We changed to a 3-2 zone to shut down their three-point shooters."

The strategy worked. Despite stubborn attempts to shoot from the outside, the cold-shooting SFS team was forced to go inside against the fighter wing, which dominated the defensive glass throughout the game.

The second quarter started with the 442nd up 12-2, but the fighter wing team kept up their shooting pace, outscoring the cops 12 to 10 in the second quarter, which sent the game to halftime with the 442nd up 24-12.

The third quarter looked like it might be another defensive battle then the SFS squad finally landed a three-point shot with 7:18 left, which seemed to give them renewed confidence in their outside shooting.

The 442nd defense kept pace, but outside shooting from the cops pulled them within seven points, 28-21, with 2:12 left in the third, which was the closest they would come to taking the lead.

Security Forces played a more physical game in the fourth quarter and tried for a comeback, but the fighter wing's combination of defense and shooting widened the lead until two minutes left when they started working the clock.

"The other team went to a man-to-man (defense), which we haven't seen all year, so we had to put up a quick offense to get screens for each other," said Mark Ernewein, who could be heard exhorting his teammates to set up screens during timeouts.

He said the other key to the game was covering the cops' two, three-point shooters on defense.