By Randy Dela Cruz, Ho'okele Sports Editor
The 324th Intelligence Squadron (324 IS) Tigers jumped out to an early lead and led from buzzer-to-buzzer to defeat Commander United States Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT), 49-30, in a season-opening Red Division intramural basketball matchup Jan. 28 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Fitness Center.
Airman 1st Class Brian Vanderpool got the Tigers off and running by hitting the first basket of the game by zeroing in on a trey from beyond the arc.
Vanderpool scored the next basket as well to give the Tigers a 5-0 lead only seconds into the contest.
Tigers head coach Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 3rd Class Ryan Shirley said after the game that the team did exactly what he wanted it to do.
“Play hard by keeping focused,” Shirley stated. “We need to stay together as a team. I’m happy.”
In gaining the victory over COMPACFLT, the Tigers utilized a well-oiled transition game and built up their lead on a steady diet of fast-break baskets.
While the team was very good at running up and down the floor, the Tigers’ half-court offense was also effective from the perimeter.
Just prior to halftime, Tigers guard Jonathan Bates pulled up and sank a trey to give his team a 26-13 advantage at the break.
The Tigers continued to push the ball in the second half and with only 9:02 remaining in the game, Tech. Sgt. Terrance Gist scored on a breakaway lay-up to up the team’s lead to 20 at 40-20.
From there, the Tigers never lost control of the game in cruising to the lopsided victory.
While no Tigers player reached double digits in points, a total of eight players got in the scorer’s column.
Meanwhile, Yeoman 3rd Class Brandon Dobbs was the only consistent scoring threat for COMPACFLT.
The swing player recorded three baskets in the first half and finished as the game’s high scorer with 14 points.
Dobbs explained that while the team didn’t perform up to expectations, he believes that COMPACFLT will bounce back.
Besides Dobbs, COMPACFLT is also led by Operations Specialist 2nd Class Solomon Pulu, who quarterbacked the fleet’s flag football championship team, and Marine Sgt. J.R. Martin.
“This is our first time together,” Dobbs said. “We haven’t even practiced yet.”
Last year, the Tigers finished the regular season with a solid record of 9-4.
Working off the success of last year’s team, Shirley said that he has high hopes for this season’s squad.
The win over an athletic team like COMPACFLT, Dobbs said, shows that the Tigers are right where they want to be this early in the season.
“We have a good team and our goal is to win the championship,” Dobbs acknowledged.
While Dobbs admits that it won’t be easy, he has a plan that he hopes with get the team there.
“The playoffs are going to be tough,” he said. “But if we stay cohesive, everybody plays together, we’re very solid.”