The one word coach Dwayne Hompson used to describe his Warrior's 73-66 intramural basketball championship victory over Man Down on the Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) fitness center's basketball court.
"We showed them how to win a championship playing true team basketball," Hompson said. "We couldn't be stopped."
The victory extended the Warrior's winning streak to seven games, dating back to the regular season. Neither team could gain an edge in the scoring column until a decisive possession with two minutes remaining in the first half.
With the Warriors in the lead by three points, Man Down shot a 3-pointer and missed. The Warriors brought the ball down court and the point guard passed the center the ball by the rim. When both of the opposing team's big men came to defend him, he quickly passed the ball to a teammate in the corner, who shot and hit a 3-pointer. They would go on to score eight unanswered points and ride the lead for the remainder of the game.
Hospitalman DeAndre Skinner, starting center for the Warriors, finished the game with 14 points and more than 15 rebounds. When the game was over, he was awarded the most valuable player (MVP) trophy.
"When the game started, I didn't plan to be the MVP," said Skinner. "I wanted to just help my team in any way that I could. My team looked to me to be a big contributor and I am glad I came through for them. Being MVP was just the icing on the cake."
From the opening tip, the Warriors showed a sense of urgency that Man Down couldn't match.
"We weren't the heavy favorites going into the playoffs, but we never lost confidence," Skinner said. "There were highs and lows during the regular season, but it made us stronger. We weren't the best team. We weren't the most talented team, but I think we were the most cohesive. We banded together when it mattered. Going into the playoffs we were the fourth best team, but when the playoffs start, everybody is on an equal playing ground."
Things became interesting late in the game when the momentum took a turn in Man Down's favor.
With two minutes left in the game and the Warriors up by 13, Man Down went on a scoring run. Shooting guard, Titus Penro Jr., scored nine straight points to bring his team within four, hitting three 3-pointers. Unfortunately, Penro's 29 points in the game wasn't enough to carry his team to victory.
"After we understood what we needed to do to stop them, we executed,” Skinner said. “We never gave up and we kept fighting. The final buzzer made me feel complete. I ran to my teammates and we celebrated because we did what we set out to do from day one. There were some easy wins and some hard losses, but it was all worth it to be able to hoist this trophy at the end." With the playoffs in the books, league organizers praised the participants for a successful program.
"The climax of the season was phenomenal," said Dwight Jackson, Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) intramural sports coordinator for NSAB. "It was better than we expected it to be. Man Down ran through the regular season racking up wins and averaging more than 70 points a game, so to see them fall in the championship game surprised everyone."
Jackson said MWR hosted this program because of a high demand from fitness center patrons.
"A lot of people asked for this basketball league," he said. "The players came out, they were competitive and most importantly, they cared. I'm happy because we delivered on our end and they delivered on theirs. It made me feel good to walk into the gym and see the bleachers filled with fans and the court filled with players. With everything happening the way it did, we were allowed the opportunity to access the level of talent and competition to better serve the participants moving forward. Next year, it will be even better."