The Young I’s win the Above 30 hoops title

Tech. Sgt. Christopher Yarbrough puts up a hook shot over the defense of Sgt. 1st Class Charles Monroe. Yarbrough hit a clutch trey late in the game to seal the win.

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

The Above 30 White Division basketball championship playoffs came to a close on April 10 in a barn-burning showdown between The Young I’s and the 545th Transportation Company (545 TC).

As expected, the game went down to the wire, but spurred by an intense defensive stand, The Young I’s prevailed, 51-45, to win it all in a game that was played at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Fitness Center.

Trailing by a score of 31-30 with 13:04 remaining in the game, The Young I’s clamped down on the 545 TC and held the team without a basket for the next nine minutes of play.

While shutting down the 545 TC’s attack, The Young I’s scored the next seven points on a basket-and-one by Tech. Sgt. William Yeaman and two driving lay-ups by Tech. Sgt. Robert Ford to retake the control of the game at 37-31.

“We realized that we broke down at about the 13-minute mark and we just had to push it up,” said Ford about the team’s shutdown defense. “If we didn’t push it up at that point, we probably wouldn’t have won tonight.”

In the first half, The Young I’s seemed to have their way against the 545 TC, as the squad got out in front right away on a 7-0 run at the start of the game on two baskets by Tech. Sgt. Christopher Yarbrough and a trey from Staff Sgt. Clyde Summers.

The 545 TC finally got on the scoreboard with about four minutes gone in the first half on a basket by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Monroe and then proceeded to pull to within a basket at 8-6 a couple of minutes later.

However, after going on a 7-0 run to start the game, The Young I’s responded with an 11-0 run to up their lead to 13 points at 19-6 with only 2:59 remaining in the first half.

The 545 TC refused to quit and cut the lead down to six after Army Sgt. Brian Robinson, the team’s leading scorer, finally broke through his first basket of the game on a bomb from long distance that made it 24-15 with 20 seconds on the clock.

Instead of letting the time run out, The Young I’s pushed the ball to the frontcourt and got a clutch three-pointer from Ford, as time ran out with The Young I’s leading by nine at 24-15.

“From the beginning of the game, we wanted to come out and play with intensity on defense,” said Summers, who lead all scorers with 19 points. “We came out, knocked down an early two and then I hit an open three and from there on out we just wanted to make sure we’re staying intense on defense.”

While The Young I’s defense took control in the first half, the 545 TC started off the second by attacking the zone and busting it wide open with a couple of long shots from the perimeter.

Robinson swished two free throws to make it a three-point game and came back down on the following trip to hit a trey that tied the score at 26-26.

After a lay-up by Ford, The Young I’s went back in front by four points, but after cutting the lead down to two, Monroe’s long bomb from beyond the arc gave the 545 TC its first lead of the game at 31-30.

Later, with The Young I’s clinging to a three-point lead, Yarbrough, who hadn’t scored a bucket after scoring two baskets early in the first half, stood beyond the 3-point arch in the left corner and sank a clutch shot that increased the lead back up to six points at 40-34 with 3:29 left on the clock.

“When you’re that wide open, I don’t think you think,” Yarbrough said about his shot that may have sealed the win. “You just do what you think is the best at that time and say, hey, I’m just going to throw this up and hopefully it will go in.”

Yarbrough, who along with Master Sgt. Todd Deralis, held 545 TC 6-foot-8-inch big man Staff Sgt. Alfonso Grimes to eight points and only two in the second half.

“When it’s about defense, you have to execute the communication,” Yarbrough said. “For example, I’ll talk to Todd and tell him someone’s behind him and he does the same for me.”

Ford, who was the catalyst that drove the team during the entire season, said that winning the entire championship was something that he couldn’t put into words – especially since he won’t be back to defend it next year.

“Unfortunately, I will PCS next year,” Ford revealed. “It will be tough, but I’m sure that they will be fine without me. It was a pleasure that I even got to play on this team. It feel’s great.”

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Category: Sports