“We’re bringing this trophy home to our company commander, Capt. Bryan H. Harrison. This is our going away present to him,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ian Rogers, team captain of the 551st Military Police Company, 716th Military Police Battalion, Hooligans basketball team.
The Hooligans defeated the Ghost Riders from 594th Transportation Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, in Fort Campbell’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation Company-Level Basketball Tournament championship game March 1 at the Staff Sgt. Eric B. Shaw Physical Fitness Center, 59-55.
The tournament began Jan. 22 with 12 teams competing. The Hooligans and Ghost Riders each played nine games before qualifying for the championship. The Hooligans boasted a nearly clean sweep, but suffered one loss Feb. 1 against Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Abn. Div., 57-40.
“It’s been a really good season. We’ve had a really good run,” Rogers said. “Our team plays really well together from previous tournaments. It’s been a lot of fun.”
As the two teams warmed up on the court before the game, the Soldiers greeted each other with waves, nods and handshakes. The championship game was their third time going head-to-head during the tournament. The Hooligans are responsible for two of the Ghost Riders losses during the season, 10-0 Jan. 22 and 52-37 Feb. 12.
Specialist John Potts, Ghost Riders team captain, said this has been a roller coaster season for his team because they have conducted missions between games. During the season, the team had to play many games without key players, which cost them several wins, Potts said.
“Seeing that we’ve already played this team twice … the first time we lost by a short margin. The second time we lost by a little bit more, but I think by the end of the [championship game] we can pull a win. But then we have to play them again and win again to get the championship,” Potts said.
Private 1st Class Devario Wilkerson, Hooligans point guard, said every game is different, even though they have played the Ghost Riders before.
“People have their days. Some days are better than most,” Wilkerson said. “Today they came out better than the past two times we’ve played them.”
During the season, the Hooligans and Ghost Riders each averaged about 42 points per game. The championship game slammed into action with powerhouse player Pvt. Marcus Thorns, Ghost Riders, dominating the tip off. By halftime, the Hooligans had pushed ahead to lead the scoreboard 34-23. In the first half, Sgt. Jeremy Jordan, Hooligans, scored nine points and Wilkerson scored 12.
“We play a really smart game,” Rogers said. “We work together to feed the ball to our big guy [Jordan]. We play good defense.”
Their strong defense and sense of teamwork has allowed the Hooligans to play at a higher level throughout the season, Rogers said. The Hooligans regularly practice together on the weekends, whenever their Families and work will allow, Rogers said.
“Our defense … we really like to play in the zone. That’s where we play our best defense,” Rogers said. “Last time we played [the Ghost Riders] we had to play man-on-man defense so we had to switch it up a little bit.”
In the second half, Wilkerson thundered down the court multiple times and attempted to shoot two and three-pointers. He was able to add two points to the board. Rogers solidified the Hooligans’ win by scoring eight points in the second half. Jordan sunk the ball for the team’s final two points, which earned them the trophy.
With less than a minute on the clock, the Ghost Riders continued to fight for the win. Potts scored the team’s final two points, giving him 16 points total. Specialist Malik Wilson, Ghost Riders, scored six points in the second half.
“We had a few careless turnovers, but then we got it together and played our ball,” Rogers said. “We were missing a few key players tonight, but we did what we needed to do to win the game.”
Although the Ghost Riders did not win the championship, Potts is still proud of his team’s accomplishments.
“At the beginning of the season I honestly didn’t think we would ever get this far,” Potts said.
After slapping high-fives, cheering and taking a Hooligans team photo together with their new trophy, Rogers said it felt great to win.
“In a championship game everyone is going to play their best game and give it their all and our team definitely did,” Rogers said. “It was the last game and we really left everything out on the court. We really earned this win.”
This championship win served as a chance for redemption, after the Hooligans placed second in Fort Campbell’s MWR Holiday Basketball Tournament in December 2017. Rogers said many of the Hooligan basketball players also competed in the holiday tournament and were disappointed in their placement.
Rogers and his teammates dedicated the four-point win to Harrison.
“[Harrison] couldn’t make it today because he is on [temporary duty], but he has played with us every game and has coached us,” Rogers said.