The military and hoops have been all over the news. But none of the news involved the All Military Classic. Rather, it was the carrier games that got all the attention. So while one of the carrier games was canceled before it began, one was canceled at half due to degrading court conditions, and one was delayed by weather for two days and ultimately played in blinding sun and winds gusty enough to turn free throws into airballs – the All Military Classic proceeded without a hitch. And in the AMC there were no faux camo uniforms. There were no made-for-tv interactions between soldiers and players. In fact, it wasn't even on t.v., and many of the players are soldiers.
You'd think, with this being played on the of Veteran's Day, and on the actual day itself, that there would be a market for this thing. And you'd be wrong. We prefer our Patriotic hoops played by the games' elite in fake uniforms. At least when the games aren't canceled.
So, what did you miss?
DAY 1: Air Force, the reigning champion and current favorite, opened with a surprisingly competitive 76-65 win over Army. Army led by 13 with under 13 minutes left, but that lead got erased over the following five minutes, and then Air Force extended from there. Air Force seniors Michael Lyons and Todd Fletcher led the way with 19 and 16 points respectively. Fletcher also forced 6 steals, which was half of Army's turnovers.
The second game between VMI and the Citadel was back and forth for the first half. VMI dominated the first ten minutes, and the Citadel dominated the next ten. At the half it was 34-34. But the Citadel took the lead for good with 14 minutes left in the second half, and were able to hold off VMI down the stretch for an 84-76 win. Citadel star senior Mike Grozelle – one of the best mid-major centers in the game – had 21 points (off just 11 shots) and 15 rebounds.
DAY 2: It was Army vs VMI for 3rd place, and the Black Knights won 80-74. Army star Ella Ellis led the team in scoring for the 2nd straight day, and averaged 17.5 ppg for the tourney.
The Championship game was the Michael Lyons show. The Citadel fell behind 8-2 early, but rallied to take a 2-point halftime lead. They were able to stretch that lead to four early in the second half, but then Air Force used an 11-0 run to take over the game. Michael Lyons scored 16 points in the first and 17 more in the second, and was just too much for the Citadel. The Bulldogs twice cut it to a one possession game, but the Falcons won 77-70. Mike Groselle had 17 and 8 to help keep the Citadel close, and sophomore Lawrence Miller made 6-9 threes.