By Reggie Jarrett
Editor Jax Air News
The Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville Flyers men's basketball team took second place in their first season playing in the Southeastern Military Athletic Conference (SEMAC).
The team also finished third in the March Madness Basketball Tournament held at Naval Station (NS) Mayport March 10-11.
In the SEMAC, The Flyers lost to Duke Field 72-60 in the conference playoffs in Montgomery, Alabama. Hurlburt Field Air Base finished first in the conference and Maxwell Air Force Base (AFB) placed third.
"The competition in the league was very good," said NAS Jacksonville Command Master Chief and Flyers Head Coach Jeffery Waters. "I wouldn't say we had the best team, but we had the best organized team in the league. I think the cohesiveness of our team was huge."
Despite the team's success, Waters said there were some difficulties playing in the league for the first time. "There were a lot of lessons we learned from this season. We didn't know some of the rules of the SEMAC and we had problems with game scheduling. Despite all that, we were able to come in second in a league that has been around a long time."
Player availability was another problem for Waters this season. The hardest thing we had to deal with was the Sailor's schedules," he said. "Trying to keep a team together with deploying squadrons and people coming and going, that was the biggest coaching challenge."
With player availability a question mark, Waters had to call on players that had not received a lot of playing time to step up. "Role players became key players," he said. "The players enjoyed being out there with each other and that was the key to our success."
Even with all the challenges, the Flyers came through for a second place finish. "I am very proud of the team," Waters said. "They did a wonderful job all season."
In the March Madness Tournament, the Flyers took third place. The team finished first in the all-military tournament last year.
The Flyers did have a some additional satisfaction in the March Madness Tournament by beating Hurlburt Field AFB, the team that won the SEMAC league, by 26 points.