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Yuma Marines net awards at West Coast hoops tournament

By Cpl. Graham J. Benson | | July 29, 2010

The station’s men’s varsity basketball team finished third in the Marine Corps West Coast Regional Tournament held at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, July 19-23, 2010.

The station had top performances from several of its players throughout the tournament, earning three invitations to All-Marine basketball tryouts, as well as one all-tournament and most valuable player award.

Christopher Harris, small forward, Lorenzo Capel, shooting guard, and Brandon Lovings, center, each earned invitations to attend the All-Marine basketball tryout in Quantico, Va., although each declined for various personal reasons.

Harris, 23, a former high school and college basketball standout from Rockford, Ill., claimed his second straight all-tournament honors in addition to his first Marine Corps West Coast Regional Tournament MVP award. This was his last competition for Yuma’s varsity team before departing to Marine Security Guard training.

“My time playing basketball in Yuma has definitely been the best period of my life, basketball-wise, because there’s been no real pressure here like in college. I’ve been able to just enjoy the game and hang out with my teammates,” said Harris.

The team opened the tournament with convincing victories over Twentynine Palms and 1st Marine Division, posting more than 100 points in each.

On the second day of the tournament, however, the team collided with a much larger Miramar squad and didn’t fair nearly as well, losing 89-68. Miramar’s zone defense positioned itself to limit Harris as much as possible and was able to frustrate him most of the game as he finished with just 20 points after netting a total of 63 in the previous two games.

“They knew where I was at on every possession,” said Harris. “Their defense did a great job of communicating throughout the game. That was the key for them.”

The team did not let the disappointing loss linger, though, as they played their best game of the tournament July 21, defeating Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, the eventual tournament champion, 79-51.

After allowing MCB Pendleton to build a quick 14-0 lead early in the game, the Yuma team buckled down and executed a 17-2 run of their own to get back in it early. From there the team benefited from solid play off the bench by Darryl Works, point guard.

“This kind of win was definitely what we needed for our confidence after the Miramar loss,” said Felix Vidales, Yuma head coach.

Pendleton also had no answer for Harris, as he torched them for 41 points while shooting an excellent 60 percent from the field.

“Everytime we play them they always play straight-up man-to-man defense,” said Harris. “This time they put a smaller man on me for some reason, and I was able to put him on my hip and get to the basket throughout the game.”

The elation faded, however, when the team learned they had drawn the third overall seed in the tournament’s elimination round July 22, and would face Miramar once again in the first round.

“That was a tough break without a doubt,” said Vidales.

The two teams rematch went much the same as their first meeting earlier in the week, with Miramar jumping out to a big lead and applying stifling defense throughout, eventually defeating Yuma, 92-58.

“No matter, what happened in this game I was extremely proud of the effort our team gave all week,” said Harris. “This is by far the best team we’ve had since I’ve been in Yuma.”

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