Paul Hamilton secures top spot in Afloat Division

Sonar Technician (Surface) 3rd Class Bill Puttman takes the ball to the rack for two of his four points.

Sonar Technician (Surface) 3rd Class Bill Puttman takes the ball to the rack for two of his four points.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor

Down by seven points early in the second half, USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60) rallied to beat USS Port Royal (CG 73), 46-42, in an Afloat Division regular-season finale on May 30 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Fitness Center.

With the win, Paul Hamilton locked up the Afloat Division regular-season title with an 8-1 record, while Port Royal lost their second game of the season against six wins.

Both teams qualified for the playoffs with Paul Hamilton facing the 735th Air Mobility Squadron (735 AMS) in the first round at 2 p.m. April 5 at JBPHHFC and Port Royal going to the Hickam Fitness Center to battle the 324th Intelligence Squadron (324 IS) Tigers at 3 p.m.

Against Port Royal, Paul Hamilton trailed at half-time by a bucket, but fell behind by seven early in the second half when Seaman London Waldon followed a basket by Electronics Technician 3rd Class Anthony Hawkins with a three-pointer to give Port Royal a 29-22 lead.

However, just when Port Royal seemed to be pulling away, Paul Hamilton got a huge boost from Ensign Jeremy Jones, who, after going scoreless in the first half, began to heat up after the break.

A basket and two straight free throws by Jones pulled Paul Hamilton to within a point at 34-33 with 11:39 left on the clock.

Then, two minutes later, Jones hit a three-pointer to tie up the game at 36-36 before he came back down the floor and sank another three to give Paul Hamilton a 39-36 lead at the 9:42 mark.

“We discussed it at the beginning of the second half to look for the open man,” Jones said. “They found me and I started taking the open shots. Luckily, I started hitting them.”

Jones scored all of his 16 points in the second half and received strong support from Culinary Specialist Seaman Brandon Reid, who also chipped in with 16, which included two clutch free throws to put Paul Hamilton ahead by four points at 40-36 with only 5:35 remaining in the game.

Although the difference was still in striking distance for Port Royal, the team was hurt by foul trouble, which put Paul Hamilton in bonus situation with over five minutes to go on the clock.

Later, Waldon would sink two free throws to pull Port Royal to within two points at 42-40, but the team couldn’t over take Paul Hamilton.

“What it was, was that we started to play to their level,” said Waldon, who led all scorers with 19 points, including three baskets from beyond the arc. “When it comes to basketball, you’ve got to play at your own pace. We got open shots, but it just wasn’t enough.”

Meanwhile, Jones said that after going into the halftime trailing, he knew that the team wasn’t going down without a fight.

“Us being down by two points, that warrior mentality from Paul Hamilton (kicked in),” he said. “We had to come out and show them how it’s done.”

Jones added that the win over a tough team like Port Royal should give Paul Hamilton a big boost heading into the playoffs.

“This is where we wanted to be from the beginning,” Jones said. “We played well as a team, and I can’t ask for a better group of guys.”

With one goal accomplished, Jones said that the team is focused on an even bigger prize.

“Our goal is going all the way,” he said. “There’s nothing else.”

For those supporting Port Royal, Waldon said don’t despair. He and his shipmates are preparing for a big surprise.

“As long as we practice and get our fundamentals down, we’ll be good,” he stated. “I still feel good about it. This (loss) was just a setback before a big comeback.”

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Category: Sports