MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- The H&SBn. NCO Challenge pitted the non-commissioned officers of Headquarters and Service Co.'s against each other in a street-basketball battle Aug. 27 that included rim-rocking dunks, high-flying action and ankle-breaking moves just this side of a SportsCenter highlight reel.
Before the games began, however, Sgt. Diedrik McDonald, from the battalion S-4, and Sgt. Everett Smith, from the Service Co. office, cooked up a feast worthy of Olympus.
The "cooking sergeants" prepared more than $300 of finger-licking barbeque including ribs, chicken, sausage, burgers and hot dogs.
As the Marines' bellies began to fill and the grill's hot flames began to cool, the outdoor basketball court across from the Osprey Inn heated up. Originally, four teams, a team of corporals and a team of sergeants from each company, were supposed to compete in a single-elimination tournament. But when both companies failed to produce enough players for two teams each, it was decided that each company would field one team and battle it out in a best-of-three series.
Both teams seemed confident during pre-game warm-ups, but as the sweat gathered on the players like dew on the pre-dawn grass, Service Co. appeared to be the more talented of the two squads.
As soon as the game began, Service Co. erased all doubts about which team was more talented, catapulting to an early 6-2 lead. Danny Thomas and Jermaine Parlow, both Ammunition Supply Point ammunition technicians, led Service Co. from the outset with tough inside play and violent dunks that left both the rim and the Headquarters Co. players' confidence shaking.
Headquarters Co. continued to battle, but never recovered from their early woes, losing the game 15-8.
During the intermission, Cpl. Mohammed Haque, Combat Visual Information Center supply clerk, undertook the role of makeshift disk jockey and began playing an array of music that added spice to the already fiery competition.
The added tunes seemed to inspire Headquarters Co., and they mirrored Service Co. basket for basket during the opening moments of game two. Service Co. appeared to be searching for the spectacular, and their play grew sloppy.
After 20 minutes of tight-knit, score-for-score basketball, the score was notched at 12. Then, as if a switch was flipped inside the hearts and minds of Service Co.'s starting five, they regained their dominating style and scored the final three baskets of game to earn the Battalion Trophy.
Colonel George S. Amland, H&SBn. commanding officer, was on hand to award a trophy to the winning team. He also thanked all of the Marines for showing up.
"Because our battalion is spread throughout such a wide area, we don't get a chance to get to know each other as well as we should," said Amland, whose comments were slightly overshadowed by the hurried construction of a 12-foot tall clown-faced dunk tank. "This is a great opportunity for us."
After the niceties of the day were through, it was time for many of the officers and staff NCOs to climb the metallic stairs onto the dunk tank platform.
For just one dollar, a Marine received three throws with a softball. If one of those throws struck the clown's nose, splash!
Yet once the balls began to fly, it was obvious that a slow, steady squeeze and controlled breathing were not going to help the Marines hit their target. Based on the accuracy of the Marines' throws, the American people should be very glad that their "911 Force" doesn't have to throw bullets at the enemy.
Eventually, the Marines found their targets, and the officers and staff NCOs of H&SBn. began to drop into the cool waters of the dunk tank.
Around 3 p.m., the crowd began to thin out as the excitement of the dunk tank began to fade. Service Co. left the court the champion, but because of the camaraderie that was built and the friendships that were forged among the Marines of both companies, the battalion was the real winner.