HQ PACAF/ 613 AOC outlasts Pit of Misery

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Hawkins floats to the basket to score two of his game-high 22 points.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Tech. Sgt. Brandon Hawkins settled down to swish five of six free throws as the clock wound down to help Headquarters Pacific Air Forces (HQ PACAF)/ 613th Air and Space Operation Center (613 AOC) secure a 38-32 victory over the Pit of Misery in an Over 30 White Division intramural basketball game. It was held Feb. 13 at Hickam Fitness Center, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Hawkins, who knocked down only two of seven free throws in the first half, came through in the clutch as he steadied his stroke to sink four throws in a row and give his team a 37-32 lead with only 28 seconds on the clock.

“I think it was just all the practice over the years,” Hawkins said. “I tried to fall back on fundamentals after you find yourself in a little bit of a slump. You over think it and I was breaking up my stroke a little too much.”

The game came down to nail-biter at the end, but at first it appeared as though HQ PACAF/613 AOC might runaway with it after opening up a double-digit lead at 14-4 with 11:02 remaining in the first half.

However, a dry spell of almost 10 minutes by HQ PACAF/613 AOC allowed Pit of Misery to cut the lead down to a basket at 14-12, before Master Sgt. Sammie Bolus finally broke the drought with a put-back that upped the lead back to four.

Hawkins completed a basket-and-one and then scored on a breakaway lay-up as the buzzer sounded off to give HQ PACAF/613 AOC a 21-13 lead at halftime.

Up by eight points to start the second half, HQ PACAF/613 AOC hit the wall for the second time in the game, as Pit of Misery went on a 9-0 run after the break to take a 22-21 lead.

“They (Pit of Misery) started in a zone and then they switched to man,” said Hawkins about being shutdown in the first half and then again to start the second half. “We didn’t adjust properly. We kept in our zone mentality and didn’t get enough motion. We were just standing around and hoping people make cuts. Once we started to get movement again, that’s when we started to pick it up.”

Hawkins finally broke the skid by sinking one of three free throws to tie the game up at 22-22 with 11:35 showing on the clock.

A baseline jumper by Tech. Sgt. James Keammener and a lay-up by Tech. Sgt Jake Monroe staged HQ PACAF/613 AOC to a 30-26 lead, but back the other way, a clutch three-point shot by Master-at-Arms 1st Class Matt Walker cut the deficit down to a point at 30-29 with only 2:40 remaining in the game.

On the return trip, Pit of Misery took a one-point advantage on a basket, but Hawkins scored on a driving lay-up to put HQ PACAF/613 AOC back in front at 32-31.

From that point on, Hawkins was money from the charity stripe as he stepped up to knock down one of two to make it 33-31, before hitting four more in succession to put the game away for good.

“It comes back to pride,” said Hawkins about the way his team fought back. “We don’t want to be that team that everyone is talking about, hey did you hear they went up 10 and ended up losing?”

In the end, Hawkins said holding off Pit of Misery to secure the win was just icing on the cake.

“It feels good,” he said. “This is our NBA. There’s not a lot of fans or media, but we still play like ball is life. It feels good to come our here and compete with these guys. When the game is close and you’re the ones who comes out victorious, it’s always a good feeling — especially when spouses and family are in the stands.”

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Category: Sports