Camp Pendleton, CA --
From the initial jump ball to the final buzzer, the Raiders and Tracks duked it out to finish the 2017 USAA Commanding General’s Cup basketball tournament. Assault Amphibian School Battalion, or Tracks, squeaked by 1st Marine Raider Support Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, with a final score of 84-74 at Paige Fieldhouse on Camp Pendleton, Calif., Sept. 28, 2017.
The basketball tournament was just one of the many CG’s Cup participation events offered to Camp Pendleton’s active duty personnel. The CG’s Cup runs from January to November and features a diverse mix of 40 events such as softball and soccer leagues, surf and dive contests, paintball competitions and mud run challenges. Points are awarded to the first through third place finishers for each event, then totaled after all the events are completed. The top three units are awarded money for their Family Readiness Fund.
As the final tip in the championship game of the basketball tournament occurred, the Tracks and Raiders knew they needed to lay everything they had on the court. Two teams stepped onto the court with flawless records of 13-0, but only one team would remain undefeated.
“This is the first year in the 20 years that I’ve been doing this, that both teams in the championship match were undefeated,” said retired Sgt. Maj. Chris Crawford, deputy athletic director and basketball and golf league director for Camp Pendleton. “I didn’t want either team to lose - they both have been great teams.”
Both teams demonstrated their greatness throughout the game with competitive attitudes and great sportsmanship. However, the Tracks quickly overtook the Raiders, leading 29-14 with 10:00 left in the first half. While not able to completely close the gap, the Raiders were able to end the first half with a score of 54-42.
After a much needed break and pep talk from their coach and center, Maurice Givens, during half time, the Raiders returned to the court to continue the fight.
“I told my guys to remember that the score is 0-0,” said Givens. “I tell them that each play they need to think ‘0-0’ and go for the basket and not worry about the score board. If they don’t worry about the score board, then they can go out there and leave all they have on the court.”
The Raiders further closed the gap between themselves and the Tracks to 54-48 with 17:00 remaining in the second half.
With the championship still within reach, the Raiders applied press defense coverage to force the Tracks to make mistakes and allow the Raiders to capitalize. Between stealing Tracks’ rebounds, long passes, and quick-shots, the Raiders pulled out everything in their arsenal trying to sink the win.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, their sudden surge at the end wasn’t enough to overcome the 10-point deficit, resulting in an 84-74 defeat and second place finish.
“I had a great group of guys,” said Givens. “We didn’t always have the most time to practice, but when we came together we learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses and executed our goal. Even though we didn’t win the championship, we played our best and that’s all I can ask of my guys.”