Air Force "cheerleader" Olivia Hassler, 4, yells to the crowd at a wheelchair basketball game May 1, 2012, during the Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. Olivia helped cheer the Air Force team to victory against the U.S. Special Operations Command team 41-14. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Mareshah Haynes)
by Tech. Sgt. Mareshah Haynes
Defense Media Activity
5/2/2012 - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AFNS) -- The Air Force mopped the court with the U.S. Special Operations Command wheelchair basketball team in a 41 - 14 victory May 1 here during the 2012 Warrior Games.
Air Force beat SOCOM in their first game of a round-robin series that includes the Army, Navy, Marines and the British Armed Forces.
Possession of the ball volleyed between teams, but the Air Force scored first and maintained the lead throughout. After a few scuffles for the rock, Air Force finished the game with just four team fouls.
Rookie Christopher Aguilera led the Air Force with 10 points. Kevin Murphy, also a rookie, and Matt Sanders, a team captain and three-year veteran each scored six points toward the blue victory.
In a second half that began 20 - 6, Ken Gestring, also playing with the team for the first time, was on fire and sunk two consecutive baskets including the last shot of the game, securing the victory for the Air Force.
"It was an awesome game," Gestring said. "Everybody just played really well -- good passing, good shooting -- it was just a lot of fun.
"We have great teamwork," he said about what led to an Air Force win. "We've been practicing hard and making sure that we have good passes. We have some great shooters; there's no doubt about that, and that's what really helps us."
Claude Owens and Damian Orslene also made big offense plays during the game that helped propel the team to a win.
"I was mismatched on height all night, so they just kept feeding (the ball) to me when it was there," Owens said. "If not, I was gone on a double team and feeding it to whoever was open."
Next, the Air Force will compete against the Army, the 2011 defending champions, and attempt to secure their spot in the medal game bracket.
"We play the Army next, and they're the defending champs from last year," Owens said. "A lot of them play professional wheelchair basketball, so it's going to be a real tough game, but I think it'll be close if we don't win it."