Hail Spencer, Gleaves, Stripes' winter Athletes of Quarter
Published: March 27, 2011
UPDATED on March 28 with newer, better Game/Shot of the Quarter. Thank you, HermanHelicopter, for keeping me honest. :)
Apologies for these being so late ... here they are!
When it came time to take care of business on the wrestling mat, 168-pounder Michael Spencer wasted little time, and his Zama American Trojans benefitted greatly for it.
When it came time to take care of business on the basketball court, 5-foot-4 senior point guard Liz Gleaves did much of her feats while airborne, and her Seoul American Falcons benefitted greatly for it.
They each led their respective teams to Far East Tournament titles, the Trojans winning both Division II individual-freestyle and dual-meet team titles, and the Falcons their second straight Girls D-I Tournament title.
And for their feats, they share Stars and Stripes Athlete of the Quarter honors for the winter sports season 2010-11.
Of Spencer’s 27 bout wins, 26 came via pin, most of them in the first period. His quickest pin? All of 12 seconds. Average amount of time spent on the mat? Try 40 seconds. The non-pin victory? By superior decision.
He won gold medals in all four tournaments in which he wrestled, the Japan preseason, "Beast of the Far East," Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools and his third Far East gold medal in as many tries.
All that helped the Trojans earn a piece of the Kanto Plain regular-season title for the first time since 1990. And they swept the Division II individual-freestyle and dual-meet team titles at Far East for the first time in school history last month at Camp Humphreys, South Korea.
Zama hadn’t earned a Far East mat title of any kind since sharing the crown in 1982.
"He’s the perfect representative of the school and to others," Zama third-year coach Chris Iredale said. "Michael is an example of what can happen when you do not quit and work hard."
Gleaves and the Falcons went 27-2 this season and have gone 108-14 in her four years on Seoul American’s varsity.
They’ve won four of their 19 straight Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference D-I regular-season and tournament titles and made four Far East D-I Center Court appearances with No. 5 in the lineup.
Gleaves averaged 12.4 points per game, shooting 58 percent from inside the three-point line, 41 percent from outside and 71 percent at the line, and averaged 3.2 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 3.3 assists per game, playing on average 12 minutes per game; most of the Falcons games ended via mercy rule.
"She is the best athlete, male or female, that I have ever had the privilege of coaching," Falcons coach Billy Ratcliff said.
Gleaves and the Falcons have won four straight D-I tournament titles in three sports, all at Faith Academy’s expense, and Gleaves has earned MVP honors in all four tournaments, unprecedented in Pacific high school sports history.
The rest of the winter season sports awards:
-- COACH OF THE QUARTER: Ian Harlow over his five years at St. Mary’s International has built a wrestling juggernaut that’s built for now and built to last. His Titans won both D-I individual-freestyle and dual-meet team titles in St. Mary’s first trip back to Far East since 2004, and he loses just two seniors off a lineup that’s packed with underclassmen.
-- TEAMS OF THE QUARTER: For the second time in five years, Kubasaki boys basketball (41-8), led by the Special K’s, Kai Yamaguchi and Kentrell Key, captured the D-I Tournament title, bringing to an even 10 the Pacific record for most championships won. Meanwhile, Morrison Christian Academy’s boys went unbeaten and took their third straight D-II crown, prompting discussion of putting the Dragons and the Mustangs on court for a "winner-take-all" showdown.
-- PROGRAM OF THE QUARTER: Without the benefit of playing regular-season games (girls season is in the fourth quarter), St. Paul Christian’s girls basketball team, led by Jaymee Cruz, Momoko Ennis and Sam Nauta, won their first D-II Tournament title. Meanwhile, the boys, paced by Morgan Aiken and Kory Borja, came in second in D-II, then won the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam island championship in an upset over defending champion Okkodo.
-- MOST IMPROVED TEAM: From 15th place in the D-I Tournament a year ago to Center Court in 2011, Seoul American’s boys team "is back," said coach Steve Boyd, in his 10th year at the Falcons’ helm. They went from 11-17 a year ago to a more customary 36-8 this season.
-- BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYER OF THE QUARTER: You won’t find his name attached to any Far East Tournament championship or MVP trophies, but senior John Ayers has been worth his weight in gold to Matthew C. Perry. Teetering on the edge, having had several players removed from the team in 2007-08 due to undisclosed code-of-conduct violations, Perry welcomed Ayers and the Samurai gradually turned the corner, from 12-28 in his first two seasons to 19-17 this year. He was overwhelmingly voted MVP of the D-II Tournament despite his Samurai finishing sixth.
-- GAME/SHOT OF THE QUARTER: Did the shot beat the buzzer or didn't it? That was the question on everybody's lips Dec. 19 at the New Year Classic when Myles Andrews of Yokota hit a jumper from the key with .4 seconds left on the clock to help Yokota rally from a 10-point deficit with three minutes left for a 46-44 win over host American School In Japan. It propelled the Panthers to the championship game with Kubasaki. A non-shooting foul was called on ASIJ as time expired, or so it seemed. The game officials conferred and placed four-tenths of a second back on the clock ... seemingly not enough time for anybody short of Ralph Sampson himself to catch and shoot an inbound pass as time runs out. Observers were neatly divided along party lines, Yokota supporters saying Andrews shot before time expired; ASIJ fans suggesting that Andrews didn't have time to catch the ball at his waist, hit the floor, then shoot in that amount of time. From my perspective, Andrews did release the ball from his hand before the buzzer sounded. Whether the clock restarted when it was supposed to rests entire with two people: 1) the referee who holds his hand up in the air until the ball is inbounded, then brings it down to indicate the clock to start, and 2) the clock operator, who is charged with starting the clock the instant the referee's hand comes down. In this case, Yokota got the break -- and later their heads handed to them 58-39 in the championship game.
-- WRESTLING BOUTS OF THE QUARTER: St. Mary’s Chidi Agbo and Kadena’s Gabe Ahner hooked up in two heavyweight battles that determined the team titles in both the individual-freestyle and dual-meet tournaments. In the former, Agbo pinned Ahner in 3 minutes, 51 seconds, and in the latter scored a two-period decision over Ahner.