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JBLM, Fairchild find a reason to play

Tournamemt lets service members showcase basketball talent

Northwest Guardian

Published: 03:23PM March 6th, 2014

Northwest Guardian

JBLM’s Ramona Sims, middle, completes back-to-back steals against Fairchild’s Alexa Reichensperger to close out JBLM 45-23 win over Fairchild in Game 2.

Ashley Ganan just wants to play basketball.

With no women’s teams on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the specialist plays on the intramural men’s team with her unit, 17th Fires Brigade.

Ganan, and 11 other JBLM female service members and family members, had the opportunity to play a women’s team when Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane contacted JBLM about organizing a men’s and women’s exhibition basketball tournament Feb. 21 at Wilson Sports and Fitness Center.

“The men overlook you when you play; they don’t have enough confidence in you,” Ganan said. “The women are a lot more physical.”

She had proof with a floor burn down the length of her forearm she earned while hustling and diving for a loose ball.

From Army and Air Force, units all across the joint base and from various ranks, a team of women joined together to represent JBLM. The team’s time spent practicing twice a week for nearly two months paid off as the JBLM women defeated its visitor 51-31 and then 45-23.

The men’s team — 47th Combat Support Hospital intramural team — lost to Fairchild 52-40 and 46-38 in the best of three tournament.

Darren Bryant, a logistics tech at Madigan Army Medical Center, volunteered to coach the women’s team when he heard the intramural sports office was putting together a team. Bryant has coached men’s teams before and stepped in to coach his first women’s team to an undefeated weekend.

The women dominated their opponent in both games, led by the shooting power of Ashley Johnson in the first game, who made five of the team’s 11 3-pointers. The second game saw nine different players contribute points, led by Ramona Sims and Kenisha Edwards’ 12 points each. The duo was aggressive in the paint. Sims’ 12 points came in the second half, which she called her second wind.

“All of our teammates get along so well and kept pushing each other to do our best,” Sims said. “It’s good to bring everyone together from all over the base.”

Sims started playing basketball at a young age and took a break from her sport when she first entered the military. She got back in it with intramurals, last playing with 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command in 2012. When someone on the JBLM women’s team told the I Corps’ staff sergeant to join, Sims showed up to a practice, and every one after.

The JBLM women and Fairchild men were awarded with trophies and every player and coach received certificates.

The JBLM Intramural Sports Office selected 47th CSH as the base’s men team because the unit won the preseason basketball tournament in December. The 2013 Commander’s Cup recipient fought a hard battle against Fairchild, but the men saw it as an opportunity to prepare themselves for the upcoming intramural playoffs.

“We just have to get better at taking shots and closing out the game,” said Adrian Williams, 47th CSH coach.

It is unknown if the tournament with Fairchild will happen again, but if it does the JBLM women are game.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to bring all the women together who always want to play to come out and join a team together,” Ganan said.