By Randy Dela Cruz, Sports Editor
Down by as many as 16 points in the second half, USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) Koa Kai mounted a frenzied comeback to tie the score and then completed the rally with a buzzer-beating shot from the fingertips of Yeoman 3rd Class Courtney Sims for a 42-40 victory over USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) on March 8. The matchup up took place in an Afloat Division intramural basketball game at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Fitness Center.
Sims, who was held scoreless in the first half, began to warm up right after the break before going wild in the final two minutes of play.
Down by 10 points at 40-30 with less than two minutes remaining on the clock, Sims pumped in eight straight points on two treys and a basket to pull Chung-Hoon to within two points with 41 ticks left on the clock.
Then after tying the score on a lay-up down the left side of the lane, Sims, after a timeout, pulled up from the right wing and swished the game-winner as the horn sounded to end the contest.
The win raised Chung-Hoon’s record to 4-1 and kept them in the hunt for the division’s top spot, while Paul Hamilton tasted their first loss of season and fell to 5-1.
“We never quit,” said Sims, who scored all of his game-high 17 points in the second half. “To get back to where you want to be, you can’t quit.”
Early in the game, Paul Hamilton threatened to run away from Chung-Hoon by opening up on an 8-0 run and then taking a 22-13 advantage at the 8:32 mark on a basket-and-one by Sonar Technician (Surface) 3rd Class Bill Puttman.
After the team’s lead fell to seven at 25-18 at halftime, Puttman later scored on a put-back to up the lead back to nine at 29-20 with 14:28 remaining in the game.
A free throw by Yeoman 1st Class Tyson Huff made it a 10-point game at 30-20, and then Huff capped off a short 6-0 run on a fast-break basket to seemingly put Paul Hamilton comfortably ahead at 36-20 with only 6:01 left on the clock.
The 16-point advantage may have given Paul Hamilton a false sense of security, as the team quickly gave up the next six points before Sims stole the final minutes of play.
Starting with back-to-back three-point bombs to cut the lead down to four, Sims pumped in another shot from the perimeter to make it a two-point game.
Then as the seconds wound down to 20, Sims took his game inside and scored on a lay-up to tie the game at 40-40.
Another stop by Chung-Hoon on defense gave them back the ball, where head coach Chief Gunner’s Mate Marcus Rodgers called timeout to set up the final play.
With only enough time to turn and shoot, Sims got the pass from the sideline before putting the ball through the net for the 42-40 victory.
“Give credit where credit is due,” said Puttman, who scored 10 points for Paul Hamilton. “They (Chung-Hoon) outplayed us in the end.”
Puttman indicated that the game showed that you could never rest in this league, even with a double-digit lead.
“I’ll admit to that,” said Puttman about maybe relaxing a bit in the final two minutes of play. “We’re going to have to work on our stamina, fundamentals and mental strength.”
Although Sims was on fire at the end of the game, he credited his teammates for helping him get open and then spotting him for the clear shot.
“I have good teammates around me,” he pointed out. “I got frustrated, but they just told me to keep my head up. I don’t look at it as carrying (the team). The first half, I was forcing things and they just told me to be calm. And it came.”