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ND ROTC teams take second

Liz Lefevbre | Monday, January 19, 2009

The 23rd Annual Flyin’ Irish Basketball Invitational drew 51 ROTC teams from across the country to campus this weekend, and Notre Dame came just shy of winning both the men’s and women’s titles.

The tournament, hosted by Notre Dame’s Air Force ROTC, lasted Friday night through Sunday afternoon at the JACC, when the Notre Dame women’s Air Force team and men’s Navy team earned second place in their respective divisions.

Thiry-eight men’s teams and 13 women’s teams representing all of the service branches competed in the tournament, traveling from universities such as Penn State, Clemson, the University of Virginia, and the University of Nebraska. Though a few teams had to cancel due to the weather, “the scheduling changes were easy to make and the tournament ran smoothly,” said tournament officer Matt Mooney.

In the women’s final, the Marquette Navy and Marine Corps team proved to be too much for the Notre Dame Air Force, as they lost 28-16.

“We played well on defense,” freshman Ayla Bicoy said of her team’s performance. “With a more controlled offense we definitely could have scored more points and kept the game closer.”

In the men’s final, a strong second half propelled Texas A&M to a 39-26 victory over the Notre Dame Navy.

With the game tied at halftime, A&M’s size helped the Aggies bottle up the Irish offense. Despite the loss, the Irish Navy team was still in high spirits after the game.

“We played the best we have ever played,” senior Dave Costanzo said. “This is the second time in three years we’ve played in the championship game. We’ve gotten second both times, but overall it was a great weekend.”

Teams in both the men’s and women’s division were divided into pools. In the men’s division, the winners of the 10 pools advanced to the single-elimination playoffs, as well as the next top six teams as wildcards.

In the women’s division, the four pool winners advanced to the playoffs, with the two winners continuing on to the finals.

The tournament places a focus on promoting sportsmanship and professionalism among the nation’s future military leaders, said tournament public affairs officer Samantha Nees.

She praised the camaraderie between schools and the friendly atmosphere of the games.

“It’s a long and challenging weekend, but it’s definitely worth it for all the great people and positive attitudes,” she said. “People know each other from field training, so it’s always fun to be competing against familiar faces.”

Every year, the tournament presents the Colonel Moe Award to one men’s and one women’s team who exhibit sportsmanship, hustle, and pride. South Dakota State University swept this year’s awards.

Overall, “the tournament was a huge success,” Mooney said. “It was great seeing everyone work together to make such a big tournament work well. There are always things we can improve on but the weekend definitely went well.”