When Sgt. Maj. Jonathan Borders read the story on the Camp Lejeune basketball team in The Globe, he had an idea.
Borders thought it would be a great idea for his son, Malachi Borders, 910 Vengeance 17U travel basketball team to play the base team in a scrimmage. A couple of texts between the coaching staffs led to a scheduled friendly scrimmage.
“I thought it was something that would build a relationship between the Marines on base and the 910 Vengeance team,” Borders said. “Most of the players from 910 Vengeance have parents that are active-duty Marines. I thought this would be a great way to strengthen that relationship.”
The Camp Lejeune basketball team secured an 86-72 victory over the 910 Vengeance squad at the Living Water Christian School in Jacksonville, March 12.
“As Malachi is beginning to transition into his senior season, he is going to be playing at the elite level, running up against talent like this (Camp Lejeune basketball team),” Borders said. “Playing their team is a good challenge.”
However, the game on Tuesday evening was much more than just a basketball game. It was about supporting the local community in Onslow County.
U.S. Marine Cpl. Derrick Whitsett, Camp Lejeune basketball player, appreciated the opportunity to interact with the local travel basketball team that plays in Jacksonville.
“It is always an honor to give back to the local community,” Whitsett said. “The 910 Vengeance team is doing a great job out here in Jacksonville.”
Whittsett noted that setting a positive example for the high school athletes is important as Marines.
“They (910 Vengeance basketball players) look up to us,” Whitsett said. “We are Marines 24/7 and it never stops [in or out of uniform].”
“Local community and support is everything to us,” said Kent Fields, 910 Vengeance head coach. “We used to workout outside and try to steal time in the park. When guys like Ronnie Koebbe, (manager of Living Water Christian Center), who let us use their facilities, [it shows] they believe in 910 Vengeance. It is so much better when we get some support. When the community jumps behind us, we see a direct [correlation] with not only wins, but positive attitudes.”
Fields and Master Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey Gibson, Camp Lejeune basketball coach, have known each other for years. After all, basketball is a sport that grows relationships.
“I am a big supporter of those guys (Camp Lejeune basketball team),” Fields said. “Coach Gibson and I go back to the days when my son was in elementary school. He (Gibson) was one of the ones that coached for the Dream Team organization. It was my son’s first AAU experience.”
Jaylon Armstrong from the Lejeune High School and 910 Vengeance basketball team viewed the game with the Marines as a chance to improve before the travel basketball season kicks off in Kinston.
“It is fun playing with the Marines but also intimidating at times,” Armstrong said. “We can learn a lot from them and it will help us when we play opponents at our skill level.”
The 910 Vengeance schedule opens with the UBA Basketball Tip-Off at Lenoir Community College in Kinston, March 22.