News: Operation Santa tournament eye opener for Quantico basketball players
Story by Sgt. Christopher Zahn
QUANTICO, Va. - The Quantico men’s varsity basketball team sought to defend last year’s Operation Santa Holiday Toy Drive tournament victory over the weekend at Joint Base Meyer Henderson Hall. During the weekend, they won one game, lost one game and then won another by forfeit, but failed to make the championship game.
As the defending champions of not only this tournament, but the Washington Area Military Athletic Conference as well, Quantico knew they had a bullseye on their backs that would attract the best from all their opponents.
“Preparation is 80 percent mental, 15 percent physical, and 5 percent luck,” said Cedric Jordan, a guard for the team. “If the team is on the same page mentally knowing what each other's role is and what is expected of them each game, we are a very difficult team to defeat. Being defending Champions of the WAMAC, like the other teams, we too are motivated to prove why we have dominated the WAMAC league for the last two years. [We want to] leave a mark that the team fights as fierce on the court as our brothers and sisters do overseas.”
The team lost their first game of the tournament to Ft. Drum 67-61 as they failed to hold on to the lead in the closing moments.
“We stumbled a bit in that first game,” said James Jones, the coach of the team. “We blew a double digit lead down the stretch.”
They fared much better in their second game, a thorough thrashing of Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling that was nowhere near as close as the final score of 73-57.
Their loss to Ft. Drum, who won their first three games, kept Quantico out of the championship game, but also taught them valuable lessons.
“The Santa Claus Christmas Tournament was an eye opener and humbling experience,” said Jordan, a third-year player for the team. “This proved that, although we are considered one of the stronger teams in the WAMAC, if we do not show up ready to play, we can be beaten. Our biggest opponent is ourselves.”
They also learned from their victories as well.
“We learned that we can truly rely on each other within the game,” continued Jordan. “If one person is having an off game, we have 12 other players who can pick the slack up. Defense wins games and championships, and it is our strongest attribute. If we are firing on all cylinders on defense, the offense comes easy. This takes the work off everyone, both on the court and on the bench.”
The WAMAC season starts on Saturday and Quantico begins their title defense again. They have won the title the last two years, and have the potential to win it again.
“We have a really solid team this year,” said Jones. “But we also have got a lot of people shooting to beat us. I like the team we have though, they’re really talented. I’m trying to figure a couple players out still, but we got a solid team.”
The team has a mix of seasoned veterans and talented rookies, including five players who played on the All Marine team, two players who played for the Naval Academy and an Army Ranger.
“We’re going to try and be the first ones to win the title three years in a row, make a little history,” Jones said.