Things learned, observed in Pacific winter sports Weeks 1.0, 2.0
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer remembers again how dawg goned difficult photographing basketball can be:
-- Three dual meets into the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools wrestling season, looks like the same ol’, same ol’ for two-time defending Far East Division I Tournament champion St. Mary’s International. No more Chidi Agbo? No problem for a team returning Jeff Koo and Kevin Miller at the upper weights, and breaking in a freshman, Ryan Vasconcellos, at the lower weights. The latter is off to an unbeaten start. Guess it’s in the genes; his sister, Jade, is a two-time All-Far East D-I Volleyball Tournament selection.
For complete results of Friday's games and photographs, click here.
For complete results of Saturday's games and photographs, click here.
-- That said, do not look past Nile C. Kinnick and Yokota. St. Mary’s only beat the Panthers by two points, and it’s very early in the season.
-- Kalik Battle. 135-pound champion at the DODDS Japan season-opening tournament at Robert D. Edgren. A North Dakota state bronze medalist last year out of Grand Forks Central. Watch this guy. Might be the next Nick Guzman or Jason Rodriguez.
-- Chad Wilder, Zama American, 158 pounds. Same stuff, different weight class.
-- Too bad Jesse Hogan of Yokota only has two opposing heavyweights in Kanto to face him.
-- Brady Yoder, 122 pounds, Kinnick. Not bad for a soccer goalkeeper.
-- Joel Loy, 168 pounds, and Aric Butterfield, 148 pounds, Edgren. Tough as nails.
-- No Warren Manegan hasn’t seemed to slow Yokota boys basketball any, not with two wins in as many games at E.J. King.
-- Malik White not available after being ejected from Friday’s game, and Kinnick boys basketball still pulled out a 54-47 win over Edgren in Saturday’s finale of the DODDS Japan weekend series. Edgren won Friday’s game in overtime, helped possibly by having four Kinnick players foul out. Still, a team that was expected to be rebuilding after the loss of Jacob Sterry, Alan Thurmond and Malcolm Mack faced up to Kinnick nicely.
-- De’Asia Brown. Still Kinnick girls basketball’s irresistible force.
-- Learning curve gonna be a bit steeper for Seoul American boys basketball than they’re normally used to. Been 11 seasons since coach Steve Boyd faced this stern a rebuilding task.
-- Anfernee Dent. Daegu High. Learn the name well. Good start for Warriors, second win at Seoul American in the regular season in three years. Any chance that they call Dent “Penny,” for his first name’s NBA namesake Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway of Orlando Magic fame?
-- How about those Lady Cobras of E.J. King, getting their first win over Yokota on Friday on coach Mimi Long’s watch (three seasons now)? Yokota bounced back on Saturday, but gotta be a confidence builder for the Cobras. “It feels good (but) it’s still early. The girls realize that. They have a lot of work to do.”
-- They might as well say their goodbyes now to Jaimee Staggers, who was injured in Friday’s game and transfers on Dec. 16.
-- Brianna Harris. Yokota. Force in the middle. Get a body on her on defense.
-- Same with Courtney Beall. Matthew C. Perry. Double-double every game thus far.
-- “They figured it out,” coach Victor Rivera said of Beall’s and the Samurai’s 46-34 win Saturday over Marist Brothers International. They outscored the Bulldogs 23-8 in the final period. “We found ourselves … something clicked … I’ve been waiting for that to happen.”
-- Don’t read too much into Seoul American girls’ 58-26 romp over Daegu High on Friday, which avenged last year’s home loss to the Warriors. “We’ll see in about a month,” when the Falcons travel to Camp Humphreys for the Martin Luther King Invitational against military teams. “We have a lot of work to do.”
-- Daegu High girls’ loss Friday at Seoul American was the “wake-up call” the Warriors needed, new coach Gregory Miller said. They rebounded to win 49-44 at Yongsan International-Seoul on Saturday.
-- Great comeback in overtime by Kadena’s girls in Sunday’s season-opening 78-67 triumph over Naha Shogyo. The Red Eagles led by as many as 10, but the Panthers’ punishing inside game proved to be too much in the end.
-- Kadena’s and Kubasaki’s boys each exceeded 100 points in their season-opening games against Japanese teams. Not much defense played by either. We’ll see if they can on Thursday when the two sides collide at Kadena’s Panther Pit.
-- Those 8-0 records you’re seeing out of Mustang Valley? Yep, American School In Japan has gotten off to another white-hot start on the hardwood, helped along by 6-0 sweeps in last weekend’s Great Wall Shootout at International School Beijing. And the girls took it one step further by beating Kinnick on the road last Wednesday.
-- Congratulations to Mike Norman and Singapore American’s boys for their title in the Hong Kong International School Holiday Tournament. Norman had just one more major tournament left, the Interscholastic Association of Southeast Asian Schools, before retiring to California after the school year ends. You’ll be missed, Mr. Norman.