Rifle team, girls basketball win champs

Two championship victories punctuated the end of a tough winter sports season at Patch High School, making the girls basketball team number one in Department of Defense Dependents Schools Europe Division I and the Junior ROTC air rifle team best in the Army.

Girls Basketball
The Patch Lady Panthers, coached by John Kohut, won the DODDS Europe Division I championship game against the Vilseck Falcons Feb. 26 at Mannheim’s Benjamin Franklin Village Sports Arena. The final score was 64-52.

Junior Nelley Loney scored nearly half of the Panthers’ total score with 30 points.
Senior Bianca Lopez, a team captain who added 11 points at the championship game, said getting along well together landed the Lady Panthers on top this year, and made up for last year’s third-place finish. “We had really good team chemistry and everybody wanted it,” she said.

Besides the championship game, the season highlight for the Panthers was beating defending division champion Wiesbaden Feb. 25 in the D-I semi-final 41-31, breaking Wiesbaden’s run of 33 wins in a row. “They never lost,” Loney said. “We broke their winning streak.”

Boys Basketball
The PHS boys basketball team, under coach Bill Lassetter, took third in European Division 1 play this year, edging Kaiserslautern Feb. 26 with a score of 53-52.
Although the team didn’t make it to the championship game, “We didn’t lose heart in the third game,” said junior Dylan Measells, who led scoring with 16 points.
They also garnered bragging rights for beating the Heidelberg Lions, the eventual Division 1 champions, in an overtime game earlier in the season. (The Panthers won 75-73 Feb. 12).

Senior Shaq Hunter, who contributed 15 points in the third-place game, thought it was a great way to finish his final high school basketball career. “We weren’t the best team, but we showed we can compete with anybody,” he said.

The PHS varsity cheerleading squad competed in the DODDS Europe Cheer Championship Feb. 26, in conjunction with the boys and girls basketball tournaments. They did not place in the competition, but coach Michele Flautt said getting used to competition was most important for her young team (six of ten members are lowerclassmen).

“I thought they did very well,” Flautt said. “I hope they had a good time and were able to learn a lot from the experience.” The squad competed against eight other schools. They were judged on their performance in tournament basketball games, along with a 2.5 minute routine. The PHS team’s routine lost points for being only two minutes —which Flautt attributed to nerves.

“It’s very intimidating,” Flautt said.
The team did take one honor from the event: Freshman Dana Lussier was named to the all-tournament squad.

Lussier is optimistic about what the team will do next year. “Our competition was really tough,” she said. “We tried our hardest, though. I think we can beat them next year.”

Precision Air Rifle
The Patch precision air rifle team placed first in the U.S. Army Junior ROTC National Air Rifle Championships, held Feb. 17-19 in Anniston, Ala.  
Team members Allie Carlson (captain), Mercedes Romih, Chaz Gillespie, Addison Flynn and Josh Sloan competed against the top 15 JROTC air rifle teams from throughout the U.S.

They beat Texas’ Del Valle High School by a hair: Both teams earned 4,589 points, but Patch had 10 more bulls-eye shots than Del Valle.
In addition, Carlson, a senior,  was named second best individual air rifle shooter in all of Army JROTC.

It was an impressive send-off for team coach Jack Wayne, who plans to retire this year.

“We’re calling it his retirement present,” said Gillespie, a junior.
The team has been invited back to Anniston, Ala., to compete in the All Service JROTC National Air Rifle Championships March 24-26.