What's clear and yet not so clear: What we learned in Pacific high school basketball Weeks 5.0 and 6.0
Published: January 3, 2010
Musings, mutterings and the occasional schmahts as Ornauer finally stirs awake after stumbling over the Christmas holiday checkpoint finish line and falling on his face, exhausted and sick:
-- What did we learn in New Year Classic 4.0? Very little, if you're looking for a clear-cut leader in the chase for Pacific high school boys basketball early-season bragging rights.
-- Even with Christian Academy In Japan (12-1) and Kadena (18-1) seemingly ahead of the field, that victory by Nile C. Kinnick over Kadena in NYC pool play and the Red Devils' near-rally in which they almost stole the final from the Panthers, kind of brings those two with the combined 30-2 ledger back to the pack somewhat.
-- No doubt, CAJ senior aircraft carrier Miles Peterson is the real deal, very polished after spending his junior year in Colorado. And he's got people around him who can score if an opponent decides to collapse all five players on Peterson and take their chances.
-- Kadena's got the depth, though. They won their second NYC in four tries without two of their veteran stalwarts, Stanley Schrock and Kevin Paranal, both seniors who went on Christmas holiday with family. More than one person has told me, "Paranal makes that whole team go." Bugs Bunny might reply: "Not necessarily, Doc."
-- And Kinnick, with its group of guys who've played together since they were able to pick up a basketball, is also pretty deep. The fact that they beat Kadena once and nearly a second time in the final says at least for now, the Red Devils have their number.
-- Besides those three, the picture of title contenders is as clear as mud. Any one of those teams can beat the other on any given day.
-- Kubasaki's boys are the best 7-10 team entering January.
-- Kenneth Haynes of Kinnick's junior varsity will be playing on the A squad by the time Far East comes along.
-- Don't be surprised if defending Class AA Tournament champion St. Mary's International, playing for their ailing coach Fred Sava, finds itself come Far East in February at Yokota, just as the Titans did last year.
-- Freshman Jeremy Harris is Yokota basketball's "next big thing." With Norzell Harris, the All-Air Force men's assistant coach, as his father, that might be expected. Certainly, the apple didn't fall far from the tree. With Harris and newcomer Warren Manegan replacing departed Tajh Kirby and Keron Brown, Yokota might be far better than advertised, particularly on their home court come the Far East Class AA Tournament.
-- Speaking of freshmen, Kadena's girls, who lost their first nine games, enter January on a two-game winning streak largely because of the shooting of distance specialist Maria Vaughan. She torched Kubasaki for 33 points, including four three-point goals, and the Panthers uncharacteristically routed the Dragons 71-46; Kubasaki had beaten Kadena two times previously by razor-thin margins.
-- Again in the underclassmen set, Yokota sophomore Erika Ettl sparkled as the Panthers won their last two games before the break. She totalled 51 points in victories over Seisen International and Zama American, and had eight rebounds, six steals and seven assists against Zama. This despite her facing box-and-one defenses wherever she goes.
-- One might view juniors Liz Gleaves and Destinee Harrison as the fuel that drives 6-0 Seoul American's girls basketball team's engine. This team is far more than that. So deep is this unit that they'll be strong not just this year and next, but for some time to come if coach Billy Ratcliff can hang onto all of them.
-- The question being, who is going to challenge the Falcons at all this season? With the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference seemingly down this year, Seoul American might have to wait until Far East at Zama before they play some truly tough games.
-- Unless Camp Casey/Area I, Yongsan Garrison, Osan Air Base or Camp Humphreys' post teams want to give the Falcons a run. And they'd better be ready to run -- Seoul American can flat fly.
First Pacific high school basketball ratings come out Tuesday.