Soldiers participated in the three-on-three MLK Basketball Tournament from Jan. 10-13, at the West Fort Physical Fitness Center.

1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, finished in first place, earning championship rings and Commanders Cup points.

1st Lt. Benjamin Whipple, team captain, saw the tournament as an opportunity to bring the unit together.

“I thought it’d be a good way to build some espirit de corps in the company, get guys from all over the company that we asked from each platoon here,” he said. “I’m the executive officer, Evans (teammate), he’s a tanker, Campbell (teammate), he’s a tank mechanic, … we’ve got a medic, … so we’ve got a lot of variety here. It’s a good way to bring the company together.”

Spc. Micheal Evans has played basketball his entire life and was excited for the opportunity to play the sport he loves.

“I’ve been playing basketball my whole life and when he said that he was building a team that could compete, I just jumped on it,” he said. “I’m just always active, I’m a hyper guy. I heard a chance to hoop, and I got onto it.”

Pfc. Donovan Campbell, has also played basketball his entire life and wanted to learn more about his fellow Soldiers.

“Just like Evans, I’ve been playing basketball my whole life,” he said. “I knew that these were a great group of guys. I knew I’d have fun regardless (of whether or not) we win or lose. And we got the job done.”

Whipple found playing with masks was most challenging, while Evans and Campbell found building chemistry was vital to their success.

“Playing with masks kind of wears you out a little bit. I had to really manage the minutes,” Whipple said. “Trying to get guys in, keep them fresh while also still being able to perform was probably the biggest challenge.”

“Just building that core with the guys, that chemistry. We’ve been hitting it hard in practice and it just paid off out here,” Evans said.

“Chemistry and staying healthy. As of late - these last few days - the hardest part is probably getting from the field and making it here on time and still getting the job done,” Campbell shared.

They all believe Soldiers having outlets like intramural sports is important for them as people.

“It just gives them a way to connect with their guys and get to know them,” Whipple said. “Me, I’m an officer, so I don’t get a lot of time to connect with the (Soldiers) that I work with. This gives me a chance to get to know (them) on a more personal level and keep it fun.”

“It builds good teamwork. We’ve got guys from everywhere around. It also helps build morale too,” Evans said. “With everything going on, with COVID and everything, this is just a good way to get out, get active and keep a positive mindset.”

“I just got here recently so it’s getting the opportunity to meet some good people, hopefully some lifelong friends,” Campbell said. “It was fun and we won a championship while doing it.”