Capturing the 2012 Washington Area Military Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament title is more than winning a string of games —going home with the postseason championship involves conquering a war of attrition as well as playing close to 160 minutes of quality basketball.
Using a strong bench and varied styles of play throughout a 40-hour, four-game stretch of tournament basketball played mainly at Henderson Hall’s Smith Gym, the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Army basketball team, the Fort Myer Generals, capped a 30-1 season by winning the WAMAC tournament played from March 30- April 1.
The number-one seeded Generals survived the battle of attrition and two feisty clashes against eventual runner-up, the Fort Lee Travelers plus an additional Quantico Bulldog grudge match. From Friday through Sunday, the Generals played on both sides of the Potomac and used a bench staffed with talent to physically wear other WAMAC opponents to exhaustion.
“During the tournament, we got a complete team effort. The ten guys we had on the team stepped up and got the job done,” coach Marcus Hall said after the Sunday championship game against Fort Lee. “[The reserves] accepted the challenge of playing well. [Jeremy] Henry, [Anthony] James, [Deon] Coleman and [James] Guy— they really gave us a spark. We try to give our starters four-minute increment breaks — sometimes [the breaks] last longer if the sub is playing well.”
Generals 100, Fort Lee 92
After a 100-68 victory against Joint Base Andrews on Friday night, the Generals traveled to Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling to begin a lengthy day of basketball in the eight-team, double elimination WAMAC tourney.
But the JBM-HH Army team quickly realized the neutral site contest was going to be majorly contested by the Travelers.
Trailing by as many as seven points in the first half, the Generals grabbed the lead from the Travelers with 5 minutes and 42 seconds until halftime as eventual tournament most valuable player Reginald Hawkins downed a trio of three-point field goals by the intermission, and Jamar Keyes tallied eight while James Guy scored seven points.
“Either we start a game off right, or we have to crawl back and then close someone out,” coach Hall said about his team’s game starts. With the 52-49 halftime lead, the defense then took the opportunity to contain Fort Lee shooters and gradually open a lead that reached double digits with less than five minutes to play.
Hawkins finished with 22 points, Deon Coleman downed 16 and Ernest Hassell finished with 15 points as the Generals had five hours to prepare for a Saturday night, semifinal contest against Quantico at Smith Gym.
Generals 79, Quantico 72
Reserves Henry and Ben DeShields played pivotal roles in fending off the Bulldogs who had their own sights on the championship. Henry’s one-on-one game and a string of DeShields field goals kept the Generals ahead during the first half where no lead was greater than four points.
“I love [coming off the bench],” DeShields said. “That’s my job—to get the team sparked and keep the momentum going or to bring it up.
“We always match each other’s intensity, and it always turns into a dogfight,” DeShield said about the recent Quantico rivalry game which needed to be briefly stopped in the first half because of exchanged shoves and terse words. “I think the people love [watching] it, and I know we love it.”
Henry’s pull-up jumper 2 minutes and 14 seconds into the final half gave Fort Myer Army its biggest lead up to that period of play at 39-32, and after a Bulldog charge at the lead, DeShields finished taking apart the Quantico press with a layup with 8:41 to play that gave the top seeds a 55-52 advantage. Two and a half minutes later, DeShields’ offensive rebound and put-back improved the General’s lead to 64-55.
“It’s always very intense when we’re playing Quantico,” said Henry. “I think Quantico and Fort Lee are our toughest competition. We know it will be a dogfight against both of them.”
Generals 85, Fort Lee 78
In the Sunday afternoon championship contest, a well-rested Will Lewis scored a team-high 26 points and Hawkins contributed with 19 as the Generals ran a tired Travelers team into a quick 20-point deficit.
“We play each other quite often, so it is kind of hard to pull away because we know each other,” DeShields said of the championship game pairing. “These games kind of flip-flop back and forth; I was [surprised] we got up by 20. I attribute that to them being tired. They played two games [versus Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling and Quantico] prior to this one. Had they been fresh, it might have been a lot closer throughout the game.”
The Travelers pulled to within four points with 62 seconds to play but a Lewis made free throw and a Henry rebound after a missed Fort Lee three-point attempt sealed the win and the championship.
During the post tournament awards ceremony, the Generals collected both a tournament and regular season trophy while Quantico picked up a second place season trophy and third place tourney hardware.