Balmers take six in a day to grab title

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Can you imagine the hissy fit that an NBA team would throw if it had to play two games in one day? Professional basketball games rarely get cancelled, but if they are, they’re often rescheduled on an off day, rather than play a doubleheader, as we once in a great, great while see in baseball?

No, it would be easier to find a marble in the ocean than it would to get an NBA squad to play more than a single game in one day. That’s what makes the Balm of Gilead (BG) squad’s accomplishments on the final round of the Sheriff’s Basketball Tournament Saturday at King’s Fork Recreation Center that much more notable.

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The BG boys didn’t have to play just one game. They didn’t play a double-header. They didn’t even get to hope that three times was a charm. Nope, the team had to hit the King’s Fork courts a total of six times in one day – and they won every single time.

BG, forced into the long day by losing their first game, started the morning by beating Oceana 88-66. They stopped the Western Tidewater Regional Jail 92-62 early in the afternoon, and defeated the Suffolk Legends 79-60 a bit later on.

It was coming near to 5 p.m. now, and the weary team had to battle defending champions Mike Duman. But they rose to the challenge, ending the sponsoring team’s bid for a fourth-consecutive title 97-77.

Only one opponent was left, and it was just the one that BG wanted – Oak Grove (OG), which handed them their tournament-opening loss. OG didn’t have a shot, as BG burned past them 83-52. But because the tournament was double-elimination, they’d have to do it again for the title.

&uot;Were we tired? Sure we were,&uot; said BG’s Tony Smith, perhaps the tournament’s best three-point shooter. &uot;But we’d spent all that time building a rhythm, and now we had it.&uot;

They certainly did. Up 40-31 at the half, BG pulled away by 20 before OG came within 59-47 with 11:30 to play. But BG called timeout, and then scored the next seven points on their way to the team’s first-ever 80-60 championship win.

&uot;It was just determination and heart,&uot; said Smith, who ended the day with 130 points. &uot;We could have given up, we could have used the excuse that we were tired, but we just wanted it more.&uot;

The tournament raised $1,500 for the department, which will be used for a senior citizens’ forum put on by the Parks and Recreation Department and the Sheriff’s Office, as well as a basketball camp for children, said BG coach Rick Scott, a sergeant. &uot;It was about teamwork,&uot; Scott said of his team. &uot;Defense and teamwork win games. These guys are some of the best players that Suffolk had ever had, and they can go anywhere in the Tidewater area and do the same thing. Balm of Gilead hopes to defend their title next year.&uot;