Joint Personal Property Shipping Office and reigning Commander’s Cup champion Defense Logistics Agency treated spectators to a defense-heavy exhibition of athletic intensity and nail-biting suspense when the two powerhouse squads faced off in the FY19 intramural basketball championship final, Feb. 28 at Well Field House.
The contest went down to the wire, with JPPSO winning the day from the foul line to claim a narrow 59-57 victory and the title.
Top-seeded JPPSO, crowning its near perfect 14-1 regular-season record with a quarterfinal win over Logistics Readiness Command and an equally impressive victory over National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Team 1 in the semis, arrived at Wells more than prepared to execute the ferocious man-to-man defense and fluid offensive precision that proved virtually insurmountable throughout this year’s schedule. With more championship trophies at its headquarters than any other unit on the installation, JPPSO’s opponent would have its work cut out for it from the opening tip.
But that opponent came to the court as the reigning Commander’s Cup champion, fielding one of the ablest and most ambitious hoops teams in the entire league. DLA (13-2 on the season) came to the show determined to continue establishing itself as a major force to be reckoned with in the Belvoir leagues. In the quarterfinal round, DLA downed perpetual contender, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Team 2 before eliminating the 249th Engineer Battalion, one of the most consistent squads in the program, in the semis. DLA took to the hardwood with every asset in its arsenal primed for posting itself among the all-time greats.
For the duration of the contest, JPPSO and DLA managed to stay to within 4 points of each other, each combining a precision passing game with a totally committed approach to the defense. The DLA offense, spearheaded by guards, Devin McKiver and Joshua Kovalski, drew JPPSO outside with a rapid-fire passing game around the perimeter before connecting with forwards, Mark Loman and Bryan Patterson, down along the baseline for some early scores. Veteran DLA center, Ferron Byrd, kept momentum building with a string of boards that enabled his team to maintain a narrow advantage throughout the first period, sending JPPSO to the bench trailing 34-32 at the halftime buzzer.
Scarcely a minute into the back half of the contest, however, the scales began to tilt in JPPSO’s favor. Guards, Deonte Bleach, Antonio Butler, and Reginald Hawkins, along with Chad Canady, Chapman Canady and Mike Collier, unleashed and maintained a refined passing game that kept DLA scrambling all over the hardwood. Forwards, Charles Calhoun, Tyrone Leggett and John Russell dialed in their accuracy from the perimeter and the baseline to kick the scoreboard into high gear and soon propelled their team to a 52-44 advantage.
DLA responded by intensifying the man-to-man harassment outside and tightening security in the lane. McKiver and Kovalski, along with forwards, Chris Dickerson, Maurice Kirk, Shawn Hampton and Kirk Gamblin, gradually narrowed the deficit to a single point heading into the final minutes of the showdown.
Like most championship hoops finals at Belvoir, the ultimate outcome would be decided from the foul line. As the result of a string of clock-stopping fouls from both squads, JPPSO and DLA exchanged the lead from the charity stripe up until the final 6 seconds. Another infraction deep in the lane granted Chad Canady a pair of opportunities to build on his team’s 2-point advantage. Hitting both freebies from the line, Canady and company poured on the coals with a full-court press. DLA managed to hit from near the top of the key but the game clock ran out before the squad could force another turnover and regain possession.
Justin Fitzgerald, Fort Belvoir intramural sports league coordinator hosted an awards ceremony after the game during which individual player awards and the champion and runner-up trophies were presented to the respective team captains.
For more information about Fort Belvoir’s intramural sports program and the annual Commander’s Cup title race, call Fitzgerald, at 703-806-5093. Athletes can also contact their respective unit representative for sign-up information and scheduling details.
For regular-season and tournament game results, go to http://www.quickscores.com/ belvoirmwr.