613th AOC bounces back to win first game of season

Master Sgt. Abi Scott puts up a scoop shot in the paint.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

After dropping their first game of the season last week, the 613th Air and Space Operation Center (613 AOC) used a tough man-to-man defense to get their game back on track and defeat the 324th Intelligence Squadron (324 IS) Tigers, 53-33. They did it on Jan. 31 in a Red Division intramural basketball matchup at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Fitness Center.

Against the Tigers, the 613 AOC turned up the heat on defense right from the start of the game to break out to an 8-0 lead.

The Tigers were held scoreless for the first six minutes of the game, while Tech. Sgt. Brandon Hawkins got the offense started for the 613 AOC with two baskets.

Hawkins led all scorers with 16 points in the team’s 20-point win, which evened the 613 AOC’s record at 1-1.

“For us just getting started in the season, we’ve got to play defense and rebound,” said head coach and starting post-player Master Sgt. Abi Scott. “Honestly, at this point in the game, we’re still trying to figure out who can do what within our team. Those guys (the Tigers) were kind of short manned, so we wanted to kind of pressure up a little bit and get out and run if we could. At the end of the day, every time we broke from the huddle, we want to talk about defense and rebounding the ball.”

With the 613 AOC controlling the tempo of the game, Scott called on the services of big man Jordan Granger, a military family member, who made his impact felt right away.

Right off the bench, Granger caught the Tigers off guard, when he set up just beyond the three-point arc and swished an outside jumper that gave the 613 AOC their first double-digit lead of the game at 13-2.

Two minutes later, Granger was the man on the spot once again, as he gathered up an offensive board and kissed the ball off the glass for two more points and a 19-5 advantage.

Scott said that it was great to see Granger produce inside and outside of the key and recalled telling the 6-foot-6-inch forward to just play his game as he stepped onto the court.

“Jordan, the first game we played last week, I think we tried to focus him down low,” Scott said. “We didn’t want to do that this game. We wanted to give him the opportunity and liberty to shoot the shot and play the game that he’s comfortable with doing.”

While Scott said that the team’s bread and butter on offense is to still get the ball down low, he doesn’t want anybody to feel restricted and inhibited from shooting the rock.

“Initially, we always want to look at our big men,” he said. “At this level of basketball, if you’ve got a guy that’s six-six like we do, he should be able to put the ball in the hole down low. We do have guys who can slash and shoot, so we want to look for those guys to cut to the basket, but at the end of the day, everybody’s got the green light. We want to take the pressure off our guys to try and force it into this guy or that guy.”

The strategy to move the ball around on offense continued to be effective in the second half, as the 613 AOC steadily increased their lead.

Eight minutes into the second half, even Scott stepped away from the paint and sank a trey that raised the advantage to 15 points at 37-21.

Down the stretch, Granger added his second three-pointer of the game and with only 2:21 left on the clock, 1st Lt. Marcus Hendricks put the final exclamation mark on the win by hitting an open jumper that put the lead at 20 points.

“We want to compete,” Scott said about the team’s plans for this season. “We want to go out there and make a name for ourselves. We definitely want to make the playoffs and I don’t think it would be too far-reaching to say that we’re going to make some noise.”

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Category: Sports