Warrior Games three-peat for Army wheelchair basketball

By Brandon Penny | May 16, 2013, 3 a.m. (ET)

Army defeated Marine Corps 34-32 for the gold medal at the 2013 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte
Army veteran Perry Price wrestles the ball way from Marine Cpl. Jorge Salazar athletes during the gold medal wheelchair basketball at the 2013 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte in Colorado Springs, Colo.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Two years ago, Army ran away with the wheelchair basketball gold medal, defeating the Marine Corps, 44-19, at the 2011 Warrior Games presented by Deloitte. Last year, Army once again conquered Marines, 54-34, at the 2012 Warrior Games.

In Wednesday night’s gold-medal game of the 2013 Warrior Games, Army posted yet another win against Marines – but this time, it was anything but a sure thing. Army pulled out the win in the final minute of the game, ending the night with a score of 34-32.

“I had no idea this game was going to be that close, I’m not gonna lie,” said Army veteran Anthony Pone (Fort Worth, Texas). “But I wasn’t unsure about the victory.”

This was Pone’s third Warrior Games and third wheelchair basketball gold medal, although he noted it “feels like the first time I won a gold medal.”

This was also Pone’s hardest fought Warrior Games victory. The game proved to be a nail-biter, with constant turnover and a tug-of-war for the leading score throughout the night. In fact, the Marines led after the first half, 18-16.

Earlier in the night, the Marines won the bronze-medal game against Navy, 49-18, which advanced them to the gold medal game. Navy ended the 2013 Warrior Games with a 2-2 record and a bronze medal.

Though the Army’s strong offense kept Marines from ultimately grabbing claiming victory, the close battle still felt like a victory for the Marines.

“We had a lot of energy and a lot of heart,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Anthony McDaniel (Chula Vista, Calif.). “We did good. We never gave up, so it felt like a win. I’m proud of what we accomplished tonight.”

McDaniel, a two-time Warrior Games participant, proved to be a valuable asset to the Marines, scoring 10 of the team’s 32 goals. The 10-member team displayed plenty of versatility overall, with six of the players scoring points. Cpl. Josue Barron (San Diego, Calif.) was right behind McDaniel, with nine points, including the only three-pointer scored in the game.

For the Army, Pone was the leading scorer for the second night in a row, claiming 12 of Army’s 34 points. Four of his points came from free throws. Veteran Blake McMinn (Arlington, Texas) was a close second to Pone, scoring 11 points. Five Army players scored during the game.

Pone attributes his three Warrior Games gold medals to Army’s strong team bond.

“Besides all the rigorous training that we do year-round, it’s definitely the family cohesion,” Pone said. “We hang out together; if there’s a problem, we all talk about it together. We’ve got that family cohesion. It’s tight; keeps us focused.”

For more on the Warrior Games presented by Deloitte, visit teamusa.org/warriorgames/.