Second-half surge leads Louisville to victory

Culinary Specialist (Submarines) 3rd Class Tyre Smith takes the ball under the defense of Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechanical) 3rd Class Zach Kelsh.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

Playing in their first game of the season, USS Louisville (SSN 724) fought their way to a tie at halftime and then picked up steam in the second half to run away from USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53), 62-45, on Feb. 10 in an Afloat Division intramural basketball game at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Despite starting the game with the bare minimum of five players, Louisville maintained pace with John Paul Jones in the first half and then came on strong in the second half to close out the win.

“We just came out here to have fun,” said Culinary Specialist (Submarines) 3rd Class Tyre Smith, who led all scorers with 26 points. “We were down a couple of guys. We had a gun-shoot schedule, so half our crew was there.”

The lack of substitutions didn’t affect Louisville at all. The team literally matched John Paul Jones shot-for-shot from the start of the game.

In fact, John Paul Jones fell behind twice early in the matchup and needed two three-point shots by Operations Specialist 2nd Class Enrico Poole to tie the game up each time.

After John Paul Jones went out in front, Smith tied the game up with two free throws to make it 23-23 and then down by a basket with the clock winding down, Smith sank a lay-up off a drive to the basket to tie the score at 25-25 going into halftime.

Smith said that pressuring John Paul Jones right from the start might have surprised them and given Louisville a slight edge.

Then, adjustments along the way by Louisville’s defense helped the team keep John Paul Jones on their heels, Smith said.

“Initially, we were running a two-three zone, then we stepped away from that,” Smith said. “We went man for a little bit, but that wasn’t working, so we just went back to the two-three and stayed in the switch.”

While Louisville switched to a man-to-man defense, John Paul Jones found some success from the perimeter.

In the first half, John Paul Jones knocked down five long bombs from beyond the three-point arc with Poole and Fire Controlman (Aegis) 1st Class Jared Borders picking up two each from downtown.

However, once Louisville went back to a two-three defense, the long shots dried up. John Paul Jones got only one trey, by Borders, in the entire second half.

Still, John Paul Jones managed to take an early lead in the second half by going to the inside and putting the ball into the hands of their big man Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechanical) 3rd Class Zach Kelsh, who scored twice in the post before throwing down a missed shot with a one-handed stuff that gave John Paul Jones a 33-27 lead.

During that run, John Paul Jones was able to shut down Smith and keep him scoreless for six minutes.

However, while Smith was being closely guarded, other teammates — especially Sonar Technician (Submarine) 3rd Class Louis Green — stepped up to help Louisville retake the lead.

For nearly four minutes, Green was the go-to player for Louisville, as the guard rebooted the team’s attack by knocking down a trey that cut the deficit down to two at 33-31.

Then, back-to-back lay-ups by Green put Louisville back in front at 35-31, before Green finished off a spectacular run by delivering a dime to Smith for two more points and a four-point 37-33 lead.

The jumpstart by Green was just what the team needed to take control of the game.

With only 3:45 remaining on the clock, a breakaway slam dunk by Smith raised the lead to 10 points at 48-38 and Louisville never looked back.

“We just trust each other,” Smith said about the win. “They (John Paul Jones) had a little run, but we didn’t let that get us down. We just kept focused, stayed in there, did what was working for us and came out with the win.”

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Category: Sports