Jamel Caddel scored 15 points Wednesday in the opening game of the Commander’s Cup Preseason Basketball Tournament, putting the 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry Regiment, on track to defend its championship from last year, after beating the 11th Engineer Battalion 60-42 in the tournament tipoff.
“We won the preseason tournament last year, but we lost a lot of guys,” coach Dexter Purifoy said. “We’ve got a good team, and I think we have a chance of winning again this year.”
In the first half, the 11th Eng. Bn. kept the game close with Monvette Baskins leading the team with 18 first-half points, but at the buzzer, the 29th held a 30-28 lead.
Coming out of the break, the game remained close but as the second half progressed, 2/29’s 2-3 defense began to take its toll by forcing the Engineers to take outside shots. With two minutes remaining, 2/29 held a 52-42 lead and would keep the Engineers off the board the rest of the game en route to the win.
“(With the win) we got the jitters out of the way with this first game,” Purifoy said. “We have a lot of young guys, but we really pushed the ball (down the court).”
Purifoy said the first game of the year really tested the team’s endurance.
“It was close at halftime, so I told the team ‘keep pushing the ball, but if you’re tired and need a sub, tell me.’ That was our keys, keeping players rested and pushing the ball.”
The double-elimination tournament continues with regular bracket play through Wednesday at Smith, Kerfurt and Santiago fitness centers with the winners’ bracket finals Dec. 13 and the losers’ bracket finals Dec. 14. The winners of those two brackets face off at 7 p.m. Dec. 14 at SFC Paul R. Smith Fitness Center.