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Soldiers cuff cops; medics stay alive

ARNG shooting guard John Dismuke drives to the basket during a game against the 19th Security Forces Squadron March 11, 2015, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The soldiers marched to 68-41 victory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt Russ Scalf)

ARNG shooting guard John Dismuke drives to the basket during a game against the 19th Security Forces Squadron March 11, 2015, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The soldiers marched to 68-41 victory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russ Scalf)

Playmaker Devante Scarver, 19th Medical Group, soars for a shot during a game against the ARNG March 11, 2015, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The medic’s intensity and communication overwhelmed the soldiers defense, 63-52. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt Russ Scalf)

Playmaker Devante Scarver, 19th Medical Group, soars for a shot during a game against the ARNG March 11, 2015, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The medic’s intensity and communication overwhelmed the soldiers defense, 63-52. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Russ Scalf)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark., -- First responders reported to battle it out during the intramural basketball championship semi-final elimination games March 11, 2015, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.

Before the first game, 19th Security Forces Squadron shooting guard, Donald Gilmore, said, "I'm nervous, but I think we'll be okay."

The "five-o" collard the opening tip-off and James Curtis, 19th SFS point guard/coach pulled up for a 3-pointer and missed; without missing a beat, the Army National Guard cagers answered with a fast break of their own.

At first both teams pushed the ball down the court, but after missed layups and bad passes, the tempo slowed down. It was evident that all teams were a bit rusty due to weather and cancelled games.

The cops looked for a groove to settle down and staked out on offense instead of rushing the tempo.

The soldiers' perimeter defense left openings for the 19th SFS' guards to penetrate the lane, but with rushed jump shots and layups lead to missed opportunities for the cops.

Lorenzo Hutchison, ARNG shooting guard broke loose lit up the scoreboard with back-to-back threes.

In a low scoring 22-19 affair with five minutes left in the first half, the lawman radioed in a timeout to try and get the game plan back on track. The Army stormed the court with a suffocating man-to-man defense which pumped up the momentum, and the soldiers pressed their advantage with power forward Justin Clary, taking it to the house with a thundering dunk and drawing the foul. 

For it to be such an important game, the crowd was sparse. But a few vocal fans in the stands talked up their teams with predictions of the second half.

During halftime, a confident John Dismukes, ARNG shooting guard, said, "A lot of teams we were scheduled to play against forfeited this year. That, plus the down time from the weather, hurt us."

The fuzz continued their beat of bad passes and sloppy fouls in the paint in the second half. Missed jump shots and layups didn't help their case.

While the 19th SFS setup in a 2-1-2 on defense, the soldiers used the clock to their advantage strategically killing time and withholding the rock.

With an end score of 68-41, the GIs robbed the cop's hopes of seeing a championship title.


The Army strong soldiers marched into the next game against the 19th MDG with the same battle plan.

Unlike the first game of the night, the pace picked up along with the number of spectators in the stands.

A see-saw battle ensued through the opening minutes of the contest. The medics cleaned the offensive boards and responded with put-back layups.

Hutchison was a sniper from long range, keeping his 3-point fever against the medics. The 19th MDG sixth man, Nathaniel Huey, came off the bench, stretched the defense and retaliated with a three-pointer of his own.

An animated 19th MDG coach Peter Elefante prescribed intensity and communication for his medics to thrive on-and-off the court. He stayed on his feet the entire game, calling out open players and directing his defense.

"We will win," said Elefante. "We play as a team just like we always do."

The medic's enthusiasm was unwavering.

Brent Ford, a powerhouse player for the 19th MDG, dropped an "and-one" at the half-time buzzer and nailed the free-throw with ease.

As the medics' money player, Ford wasn't afraid to step out and drop dimes from three-point range or mix it up in the paint. He put on a show from all ranges. Dropping baskets from all ranges-- 3-pointers, jump shots and layups were in his bag of tricks.

Medics playmaker Devante Scarver, was the heart and soul of his team. His absence from the court is always noticeable by players and spectators alike. After a breather he subbed back into the game he said, "Man it kills me when I am not playing."

With 3:30 left to play and a medic on the free-throw line, Elefante was ready to administer the final blow of this heavyweight matchup. When asked what his team needed to do to break the tie and take home the win, he said make this basket and get a stop on defense. And they did just that.

The medic's defense tightened like a tourniquet-- the soldiers did not score again.

As a last gasp, the ARNG fouled to stop the clock and slow the bleeding, but the medics piled on 11 straight points to end the game.

The 19th MDG walked off the court with a 63-52 win and their heads held high looking towards the championship title against the 314th AMXS.


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