EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
The 96th Force Support Squadron narrowly beat Strike Fighter Squadron 101 40-38 in intramural basketball March 1, in a thrilling second half that saw three lead changes in the final two minutes.
The Air Force Supporters swaggered onto the court with a 5-0 record. The Navy’s Grim Reapers, at 2-3, hoped to hand FSS their first loss while improving their own stats to even.
The Air Force dominated the first half with crisp ball movement and successful offensive and defensive transitions. The Navy struggled to execute a game plan. Justin Tobe and Jojuan Phoenix set the pace in the first minute with three-point jumpers each for a 6-0 lead.
Adam Herrera put Navy on the scoreboard nearly two minutes in, to make the score 7-2.
Willie Whitley's three point and Raphael Bell’s two-point contributions pushed Air Force to a 22-10 lead at the 5:56 mark.
The Navy’s misses in the paint and at the free-throw line prevented them from catching FSS. However, they outscored Air Force eight to three in the closing minutes, which boosted their confidence as they left the court.
The Air Force led 25-18 at halftime.
“We’re fine,” said Glen Gould, FSS’ coach of his team’s play. “We need to relax on offense and tighten up on defense.”
Keith Foster, the Reapers’ coach, was optimistic about catching the league leaders in the second half.
“We’re chipping away at them,” he said. “We need to pass smarter and buckle down on defense. We’ll be all right.”
The Navy mounted a mid-half comeback with shooting from Mikey Reese, Reginald Barnes and Max Roberts. They caught Air Force at 8:42 when Herrera’s three tied the game at 32-all.
Adam Canne answered with a three at 7:48 to give the Navy their first lead, 35-32.
From there, both teams scrapped to prevent the other from gaining an advantage, which led to fouls and free throws.
The lead swung three times from the line, until a clutch three-pointer from Whitley and a crucial free throw from Gould in the final two minutes cemented Air Force’s victory, 40-38.
“They gave us some problems late in the game, but we stuck together and are happy for the win,” Gould said. “At 6-0, our record is still perfect.”