Monday night marked the beginning the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Company-Level Basketball Tournament at the Staff Sgt. Eric B. Shaw Physical Fitness Center.

Lifeliners from the 372nd Inland Cargo Transfer Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, faced off against the Night Stalkers of the 160th Special Operation Aviation Regiment.

The Lifeliners took an early lead, scoring the first three-pointer of the game less than a minute in. The Night Stalkers came back with a two-pointer of their own, but the Lifeliners quickly took back control with their own two-pointer. They scored seven points in three minutes before the Night Stalkers sunk another two-pointer, bringing the score to 12-4 less than half way through the first half.

The Lifeliners scored several two-pointers and a free throw in quick succession, followed by the Night Stalkers scoring a three-pointer and a two-pointer in a row, trying to close the gap in the scores.

The Lifeliners scored four more points and the Night Stalkers pulled out five more before the first half ended, 21-14.

The Lifeliners started the second half with a two-pointer and a free throw, but the Night Stalkers got their second wind scoring five points, putting the score at 24-19.

The teams steadily traded the ball, scoring two- and three-pointers until the scores reached 29-28 with just 8:30 left on the game clock.

Spooked by the Night Stalkers’ sudden burst, the Lifeliners pushed themselves harder. They scored two baskets and two free throws before the Night Stalkers got the ball back.  The Lifeliners steadily pulled away, stealing the ball back quickly after scoring and blocking the Night Stalkers shots, until the game ended 44-35.

“We could have done a lot better,” said Spc. Freddy Jones, 372nd ICTC coach. “It was 44 to 35 but we could have gotten 70.”

Despite winning, Jones said it seems his players had an off night, but he is sure they will do better in the next game of the tournament.

“[We’ll] probably just play harder, stay focused, stop being lackadaisical because we’re winning,” he said. “We let the team come back, so I know we have a lot more talent than what the score told.”

Jones began to worry when his team went from leading by 11 points to leading by one, but they came back so he was proud of them.

“We really had too many mistakes tonight and it cost us,” said Sgt. Jodie Basemore, 160th SOAR coach. “We tried to fight hard. We came back, just not enough.”

Because of the size of the tournament, the Night Stalkers had to immediately play a second game to stay in the running.

“Now we’re in the losers bracket and we still have a chance to make it to the championship game,” Basemore said. “We just have to claw our way back to the top.”

The championship game is scheduled for Thursday night.