Holloman men's varsity basketball play double-header vs. Cannon Saturday

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- The men's varsity basketball team is scheduled to host their in-state Air Combat Command rivals from Cannon Air Force Base this Saturday in a two-game series at the 49th Services Squadron Fitness and Sports Center.

The teams split the two games they played against one another last season, leaving neither with a clear psychological edge coming into this weekend's match up.

This year, both teams are in the hands of rookie coaches, eager to prove they have fielded the best squad in the Land of Enchantment.

"We're looking forward to a competitive game," said Holloman's Head Coach Marcellues Hall. "It's going to come down to who wants it the most; who comes out with the most heart."

The games will be the first of the season for Cannon's team.

"Everyone is pumped and ready to play," said Nate Stephens, Cannon's head coach. "After a lot of beating each other up in practice, we're ready to take on some strangers."

Holloman is already nine games into their season with a record of 5-4. But the wins and losses category doesn't tell the whole story. Highlights include starting the season with a third place finish in a Veteran's Day tournament hosted by the 49th SVS and defeating a local team, the Yum Yums, 147-36 in league play. They have also played close games with Ft. Bliss' varsity team.

Holloman is a much more athletic, physically conditioned team than in years past, said Clarence Mitchell, a coach and mentor to the program here. Nobody can ever say they lost because of being out of shape, he said.

Physical conditioning will be key for Holloman, since Coach Stephens lists athleticism and strong swingmen as his team's strengths.

"Our moniker is, lethal hoops, we come in with lethality," Coach Stephens said. The motto is an extension of Cannon's 27th Fighter Wing's motto, "The world's most lethal warfighting team."

Whether or not they can translate that into a win or two in the "Friendliest place on Earth," is yet to be seen.

The first game in the series is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday in the fitness center gym. The second game is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.