MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Four of the East Coast Marine Corps installations sent their best of the best for the East Coast Regional Basketball Tournament held at the Cherry Point Marine Dome July 17-22.
“This tournament is held annually a few days before the start of the All-Marine Team tryout camp,” said Gil George, assistant athletic director for Cherry Point. “The four teams play for the championship, but the key reason for this tournament is to give the coaches a view of players they may want to see attend the camp.”
This year’s tournament participants were from Marine Corps Air Stations Cherry Point and New River and Marine Corps Bases Camp Lejeune and Quantico.
The tournament started with round-robin play to seed teams for the double elimination tournament.
“The competition is going to be tough between Quantico and whoever makes the finals between Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune’s semifinal game,” said Matthew Faircloth, guard for Camp Lejeune.
The semifinal game between the neighboring installations went into a second overtime where a last-second shot decided the game.
“Going into the semifinal game we had been blown-out by Camp Lejeune twice, and our only thoughts were to control the pace of the game,” said Taurice McMillan, a forward for Cherry Point. “The hardest part of the game was the helpless feeling I got in the last few seconds as time expired and the Camp Lejeune player threw a last desperation shot.”
According to George, Shermandre Jackson’s last-second shot bounced off the backboard and scored for the game-winning basket, which was his only two points of the game.
This gave Cherry Point its second loss and ended its tournament run with a final score of 98-97.
Camp Lejeune advanced to the finals of the double-elimination tournament where it played against the undefeated Quantico team.
Camp Lejeune had previously lost to Quantico in the quarter-finals.
“Quantico was a force to be reckoned with in this year’s tournament,” said George. “They went 3-0 in round-robin play, and they won bringing their total record for the ECR tournament to 6-0.”
After the awards were passed out, George introduced All-Marine Basketball coach James Jones.
“This whole tournament is about giving the East Coast Marines evaluation time and gives Jones a chance to see who he will take to tryout camp,” said George.
The All-Marine tryout camp is scheduled for Aug. 23 - Sept. 15 and will be held at Headquarters Marine Corps’ Henderson Hall.
“Jones gave us the names of 12 players he wanted to take with him,” said George, “Two were from Cherry Point, two from New River, three from Camp Lejeune and five from Quantico.”
Jones has a very extensive run with Marine Corps basketball.
“While at Cherry Point, Jones won four ECR championships,” said George. “He was the first Marine Corps coach to win three consecutive ECR championships in Marine Corps history.”
Jones is presently coaching the Quantico team, and with this year’s championship win he has a total of seven ECR championships.
“This tournament is important to our East Coast Marines who want to go further than just intramural play,” said George. “They want it all, and this tournament gives them that chance.”