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MDG claims senior league title

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- After 120 minutes, 289 total points, one player lost to injury and a bounty of argued calls, MDG was finally able to put the nail in OSS’ coffin and secure the base championship.

The 28th Medical Group closed out the 28th Operations Support Squadron, 48 - 43, in the final championship game Feb. 16. It was the third meeting of the teams in this year’s playoffs, with MDG winning the semifinal match up, and losing the first championship game to set up the do-or-die final.

“After losing the first game, we knew we’d have to play smart and conserve energy,” said DeShon Vinette, a guard for MDG, who started the championship round with six players, but lost forward Thomas Tiley to a sprained ankle late in the first game. “They could’ve run us out of the gym with us only playing with five.”

OSS tried to use their depth to their advantage.

“We tried to run them, but they still had the stamina to make the steals and the breakaways,” said Scott Plumb, OSS forward.

But OSS couldn’t pull away from MDG, who, led by guard Tony Carter’s 12 first half points, only trailed by two going into the half.

“We kept the same game plan going into the second,” said Vinette. “Play smart, take care of the ball, take good shots and play tight defense, and everything else should fall into place.”

Everything fell into place for MDG when their defense, led by forward John Tucker, took over. After allowing OSS to net 27 in the first half, MDG held them to 16 points. Cedric Harper, the OSS forward who led his team with 10 points in the first half, was shut out by the MDG defense in the second.

“He’s a tough match up. He plays with power in the paint and is as quick as a guard on the perimeter,” said Vinette, who was one of several MDG members who swarmed on Harper each time he touched the ball in the second half.

Most of MDG’s offense was supplied by the trio of Vinette, Carter and forward Randy Oliver, who combined with Carter to score 21 of the team’s 23 points in the second half.

“Our toughest challenge was trying to contain their breakaway speed, and of course, to guard Carter and Vinette as tight as possible,” Plumb said.

In the end, MDG was able to overcome injuries, a depleted roster and defeat an imposing OSS team en-route to claiming the top spot in the league.

“Everyone on our team came up huge for us, but I think Oliver and Tim Megenhardt stood out,” Vinette said. “They really played their buns off in those championship games.”