Strong defense leads Hopper to 16-point win

Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Anthony Averett heads up the invisible ladder for a two-handed stuff in the first half.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

USS Hooper (DDG 70) used a suffocating zone defense to smother USS Jefferson City (SSN 759)/USS Chicago (SSN 771) into submission and gain a 39-23 victory on March 3 in an Afloat Division intramural basketball game at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The matchup was the Hopper’s first game of the season after returning from deployment, but the time away did nothing to diminish the team’s competitive spirit.

Hopper gets its season off to a great start at 1-0, while Jefferson City/Chicago is still searching for their first win of the year at 0-4.

“I think we’ve got stuff that we need to work on, but we do have a better team than what (we showed),” said Hopper head coach Lt. David Wight. “We’re going to get better from game to game.”

While Hopper did struggle on offense at times, defensively the team was a wreaking ball as it held Jefferson City/Chicago without a basket for the first nine minutes of the game, until Yeoman 2nd Class Jusuf Jenkins hit a jumper inside the lane to break the drought.

Jenkins hit another basket in the first half, but that was all that the Hopper defense would allow for the entire half.

Jefferson City/Chicago scored a total of 11 points in the first half, with seven of the points coming from the charity stripe.

Hopper did have some problems on offense, but not from stretch forward Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Anthony Averett, who finished with a game-high 17 points.

Averett started to take control of the game midway through the first half, as he poured in seven of the team’s first 11 points on two baskets and a trey.

In total, Averett scored nine of the team’s 22 first-half points and finished off the game with two more treys and a hoop in the second half.

Five of Averett’s eight second-half points came in the opening minutes after the break. He zeroed in on a long bomb from beyond the arc and then finished off a fast break with a slam dunk, which was his second of the game.

Then with 10:32 left on the clock, Averett put an exclamation point on his game by locking up the win a three-ball from the top of the key that gave Hopper a 32-13 lead.

“He’s (Averett) one of our key players,” Wright said. “He’s one of the new guys that just got here and he’s making a big difference.”

Besides Averett, Hopper got strong contributions from Boatswain’s Mate Seaman Recruit Jason Haddix, seven points, and Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Melvin Bergado, who added nine points.

While Hopper’s offense picked up the pace on offense, the team’s defense never let up throughout the entire game.

After giving only two baskets in the first half, Hopper allowed only four more baskets in the second half for a total of 12 points from the field.

“We just stopped their two big guys and stayed in there,” Wright said. “We had four people that could stay in there.”

With 10 players on the court, Hopper is well-stocked with enough Sailors to keep the pressure on any team it faces.

Already pointing out that he wants to better the team’s rotation of the basket, Wright’s biggest responsibility is to get every player on the same page.

If the coach is able to get that done, then Hopper could be a factor as the playoffs approach.

“We’ve just got to keep on practicing and keep on getting better,” Wright said.

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Category: Sports