MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The Twentynine Palms Varsity Basketball Team recently competed in two inter-service tournaments, winning one and taking third place in the other.
The first tournament Team Two-Nine, as they are called, played in was the 2006 Silver State Classic at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., March 17-19.
The tournament consisted of six teams divided in two divisions, and was played in a round-robin format.
After losing its first game 67-71 to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., Two-Nine regrouped and rallied their way through the next two games, earning a spot in the championship game against Beale Air Force Base, Calif.
Beale AFB, who was undefeated thanks to a 6’11’’, All-Armed Forces center, proved no match for the Combat Center as Two-Nine won 87-70, clinching the 2006 Silver State Basketball Classic title.
“We take great pride in representing the Combat Center and work hard to ensure that we are competitive and disciplined on the court, as well as off,” said Team Two-Nine player Spencer Rutledge. “Often undersized, we pulled together as a team with strength of heart and character, supported by our physical conditioning. It was a great win for us.”
Two players from the team were recognized for exceptional play at the completion of the tournament. Derek Griffin was named to the All-Tournament Team, and Spencer Rutledge was named the tournament most valuable player.
The second tournament the team competed in was the 2006 King of the Coast Basketball Tournament held Saturday at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.
This tournament was played in round-robin format as well and consisted of teams from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., the recruit depot and the USS Nimitz.
Jumping out to a comfortable lead early and holding it for most of the game, Two-Nine looked poised to defeat its first opponent, Camp Pendleton. However, with four minutes remaining in the game, Pendleton took its first lead of the game, swaying the momentum in their favor. The Combat Center could not recover and suffered a heart-breaking first game loss.
In their second game of the day, Two-Nine jumped out to a sizable lead early against MCRD San Diego. Able to hold on this time, the Combat Center evened its record at 1-1.
In what would be their third and final game of the tournament, Two-Nine jumped out to a huge lead against the USS Nimitz. Leading by as many as 18 points in the first half, Two-Nine let the Nimitz back in the game however, and eventually lost.
Although suffering two heartbreaking loses in the tournament, players from the Combat Center remained positive about the experience.
“By controlling the majority of all three games this weekend, we proved to ourselves that we are very capable of taking first place,” said Lance Raymond, a player with Two-Nine. “However, we didn’t play consistent and finish games at the same level we started them at. We have to learn to play our game for the entire 40 minutes.”
The team hopes to travel to Hawaii to play in the Aloha Classic sponsored by Hickam Air Force Base, from Monday to April 15. Last year Team Two-Nine competed in that tournament, winning their division, but eventually losing in the semi-final round.