F-Force starts slowly, wins 4th league crown


The revenge factor started to surface midway through the first half of Wednesday night's Annapolis Men's Summer League basketball championship game between Pro-Jersey and F-Force.

In the 1990 finals, Pro-Jersey fell, 43-39, to F-Force.

This year, Pro-Jersey started quickly, gaining momentum and taking a 15-9 lead on a Rob Wooster three-point shot.

Suddenly, F-Force's version of the cavalry -- Jody Beck and Jeff Brown -- appeared from out of nowhere. The two starters emerged from the Truxtun Park parking lot in full stride, rushing to the aid of their ailing team.

In the last six minutes of the first half, the Force went on a six-minute, 18-5 run, giving them the gas they needed to take their fourth league title in the past six seasons, 49-44.

"We had to keep it going until our main man [Beck] got in. He gave us the lift we needed," said F-Force forward Dennis Edwards, the tourney's Most Valuable Player. Edwards, who will begin his sophomore season at Alvin Community College in Texas this winter, led all scorers with 20 points -- including 15 in the first half.

Beck and Brown combined for just 11 points, but the emotional lift they gave their team was apparent, as they created havoc on defense and kept the Pro-Jersey defense honest.

"I was a little shook up when I got here and saw that they had the lead on us, but Pro-Jersey always takes quick leads. You have to give them credit, they played real hard, but so did we," said Beck.

The 6-foot-2 forward attributed his team's fortunes to its composure under fire.

"This time, we didn't complain about the refs or lose our cool like we normally do. We kept our heads, and we played as hard as we could. That was a big key for us.

"We knew that we would have to play with a lot of intensity to win it," said Beck, who posted six points and a team-high seven rebounds to go with two blocked shots. "Tracey Evans and Freddie Butler had to go back to North Idaho [College], so with both of them gone, I had to step it up a notch."

Both teams had to elevate their games a notch during the entire tournament. Both F-Force and Pro-Jersey finished the regular season with 8-4 second-place finishes in the East and West divisions, respectively.

The champs breezed to an easy 63-38 win over the Seahawks in Tuesday's semifinal, while Pro-Jersey narrowly squeezed past Parole, 53-48, in two overtime periods.

"You know any time you have two second-place teams playing for the league championship, it's a tough league all-around," said Pro-Jersey center Craig Gebelein. The former Adelphi (N.Y.) University center totaled seven points and six rebounds.

While keeping the lead for the majority of the second half, F-Force was unable to run away and hide. The losers briefly held leads of one and three points, thanks to a three-pointer and two free throws from guard Kevin Thompson.

After closing the gap to 45-44 with 1:35 left in the game, F-Force guard Rodney Rice hit both ends of a one-and-one to put the winners up by three with 37 seconds left.

Seventeen seconds later, Thompson hoisted up a desperate, 30-foot three-point attempt. The ball caught the backboard along with every inch of the rim before rolling out, putting an end to Pro-Jersey's last-ditch comeback effort.

"I thought it was going in, but it didn't happen that way," said Pro-Jersey forward Wayne Gebelein. "F-Force came to play tonight. It was a great game, and it was a lot of fun to play in. The refs let us play inside. It was just the kind of game I like."

One of the game's more physical players, F-Force power forward Rickey Somerville, put the icing on the cake with eight seconds remaining, tapping in Beck's miss of the front end of a one-and-one to give his team its final victory margin.

"My fourth title in six years," said Somerville, who scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds. "We just beat a good solid team. They beat us earlier in the season, so we knew that it was going to be a tough game. I think we just worked a little harder."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad