CAMP LEJEUNE —Whether as a Mariner or a Marine, Ty Simmons just wins.
A member of the East Carteret 2015 state championship squad, the sharpshooter is still leading basketball teams to victory.
The U.S. Marine Corps lance corporal scored a game-high 27 points on March 4 to lead 2nd Supply Battalion past 2nd Dental Battalion to claim Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s MCCS Lejeune-New River Sports Intramural Basketball League title at Goettge Memorial Field House.
“I’m going to ball until I can’t no more,” he said.
Simmons hit six three-pointers and scored 15 second-half points to fend off a comeback attempt from 2d Dental Battalion that was spurred by HM2 Jamaal Evans who scored 15 of his team-high 23 points in the second half.
Simmons’ 27 points came as a bit of surprise.
“I didn’t even know I had it,” he said. “I just did what I normally do. I just played.”
Evans drilled a pair of treys on back-to-back possessions from the left wing to cut the deficit to just one point in the final minutes, but 2d Supply Battalion played stout defense down the stretch to hold on and win the championship 57-45.
The stellar play from Simmons was a major difference maker as the team’s leading scorer carried his team to a victory and a 9-0 record on the season.
His coach was not surprised by the performance.
“He is big-time ball player,” U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Brandon Mitchell told The Camp Lejeune Globe. “He’s got big things coming. I would expect to see him probably at the Armed Forces (Championship) come May.”
Simmons reported those plans are now on hold.
“I was hoping to make the team in a few months, but they cancelled it because of the coronavirus, so now I have to wait another year,” he said.
He’s already gotten a taste of travel ball, playing on the Camp Lejeune Devil Dogs in the Military Basketball Association.
“We’ve hit Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, Colorado,” he said.
One of the joys of Marine life has been the ability to hit the courts.
“I get to play basketball almost every day,” Simmons said. “Well, I was playing almost every day before the coronavirus, but they’ve shut the gym down now.”
He will celebrate one year in the service come April. He works in the Distribution Management Office (DMO).
“The first year has gone pretty smoothly,” he said. “It’s been almost a year since I’ve been in. That’s crazy. It’s gone by fast. I’m getting to know my job by doing it every day consistently. Basically, we process and deliver gear and make sure everything gets out to everybody.”
He’s scheduled to be stationed at Camp Lejeune for three more years, which is fine with his family.
“They love it,” he said. “They take advantage of it. I can get them on base to visit.”
Simmons is still trying to determine if he’ll make a career with the Marines.
“I want to be diehard and say I’m going for 20 (years), but I think I’ll take it year by year,” he said.
He worked for a while at Harborview Rehabilitation & Health Care Center in Morehead City after two years playing ball at Pitt Community College. He averaged 8.2 points, shooting 53 percent from the floor and 38 percent from beyond the arc as a sophomore.
He shot the ball similarly well in high school when he earned a special place in the hearts of East fans.
Those fans were reminded of those exploits recently with the five-year anniversary of the basketball team’s 1A state championship taking place on March 14.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long, not at all,” he said. “It makes me feel old. I had a few people text me, telling me they missed seeing us play. I think about it now and then.”
Simmons helped lead the Mariners to the first basketball state title in school history in 2015 by earning Most Outstanding Player honors in a 67-64 victory over Winston-Salem Prep.
He went for a team-high 23 points on 8-for-14 shooting and added seven rebounds, two assists and two steals.
“I hurt my hip in my junior year and felt like I could have done so much more,” he said. “I dwelled on it, and when I got healthier, I made up my mind that I was not going to let anything stop me and my boys from getting a championship.”
The Mariners finished the season on a 21-game winning streak to end up 28-2. Their lone losses came to out-of-state schools in the Beach Ball Classic at Myrtle Beach.
East went 31-0 in Simmons’ junior year before suffering a 72-71 loss to Winston-Salem Prep in the 1A state final.
He averaged 12 points, 8.1 rebounds and 2.0 steals in a remarkable career that began when he was called up from the junior varsity during the state playoff run of his freshman year.
He finished with over 1,000 points, almost 600 rebounds and nearly 150 steals while helping East advance to regionals in four consecutive seasons.
He went 89-6 overall in his time in a Mariners uniform, including a 71-6 mark on the varsity, and helped sport a 13-3 playoff record.