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Top 10 stories of the year, Pacific interservice, high school sports

Monday's editions of Stripes feature a new twist on traditional year-in-review stories published by Stripes around this time of year.

This December, we take a look at the Pacific's top 10 military and high school sports stories of the year, as determined by Stars and Stripes' sports staff.

Harris, Hawkins helping Yokota Warriors cagers reach a new level

Never before have Yokota's Warriors captured three Pacific-wide post-level basketball tournaments in one season. This year's group, paced by backcourt tandem K.D. Harris and Brandon Hawkins, might have a chance.

Hawkins netted 30 points and MVP Harris 28 as Yokota survived a tenacious Camp Casey squad to capture the title in the 22nd Osan Pacific-wide Holiday Tournament on Sunday at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

New Year Classic: What we learned over the weekend

Musings and mutterings from Yokosuka Naval Base as Ornauer props his eyes open with toothpicks and tries to figure out what to get the fam for Christmas:

-- Did the New Year Classic teams play too many games in too short a span? Champion Yokota played seven games and runner-up American School In Japan nine in a 36-hour span. Most, if not all, players and teams simply pulled up their bootstraps and dealt with it as best they could ... but you could tell people were dragging by tournament's end.

Eternally chipper Spencer serves up winning wrestling for Zama with a smile

Want to meetMichael Spencer? Just look for him on a wrestling mat near you -- he'll be the one with the smile, on or off the mat.

Late of Wiesbaden High in Germany, where he earned a silver medal at 145 pounds and helped the Warriors to their first DODDS-Europe title in two decades last February, Spencer, a sophomore, transferred to Zamain August and he'spicked up right where he left off.

Chase-ing redemption, rejuvenation: Samurai boys basketball picking up steam

If there's such a thing as a "good 1-7 record," coach Chris Clark says his Matthew C. Perry Samurai boys basketball team exemplifies just that.

The young squad, featuring just one senior in Justin Clement and piloted by a freshman point guard, Chase Dariso, is literally starting over from the ashes of its aborted 2007-08 campaign, short-circuited by illness, injury and an incident aboard the team bus.

3rd MLG rules Far East Regional Soccer Tournament a second straight time.

They'd had their hearts broken four previous times in this decade trying to claim that ever-elusive Marine Corps Far East Regional Soccer Tournament title.

But after Friday's 4-2 triumph over Marine Corps Base Camp S.D. Butler in a rematch of the 2007 championship match, 3rd Marine Logistics Group of Okinawa is closing in on a title monolith.

Reigning Far East mat champions remain in step

Musings and mutterings as Ornauer gasps for breath reaching for the tape that marks the start of Christmas break:

-- Defending Far East High School Wrestling Tournament gold medalists Chris Cournoyer and Tony Presnell of Yokota and reigining Outstanding Wrestler Cameron Butts of Nile C. Kinnick look as though they've still got their groove on, if their performances at Saturday's All-Japan Invitational is any indicator.

Quallio adds impressive title to already impressive resume: All-American

He's an All-American now.

Already heavy with DODDS-Pacific Far East and other battle honours, Zama American senior Andrew Quallio claimed ninth spot in Saturday's USA Track and Field junior Olympic cross-country meet.

All hail Edgren's Alexander, Osan's Baldevia, Stars and Stripes' fall Athletes of the Quarter

Every now and then, two athletes come along who lead their teams into uncharted territory.

Running back/defensive back/kick returnerJohnell Alexander helped lift Robert D. Edgren football to arguably the best season in school history. Not only did the Eagleswin theirthird straight Class A title,they earned their first victory over Yokota in nine seasons.

Falcons boys soaring, Faith girls making noise early on in Pacific hoops season

Musings and mutterings as Ornauer struggles to melt off the indulging too much of all the culinaryholiday pleasures over Thanksgiving weekend:

-- Keeping in mind that it's still 2 1/2 months before Far East ... they don't get much more strong and balanced than Seoul American's boys basketball team. The defending Class AA and now two-time Hong Kong International School Holiday Tournament champion possess inside strength (seniors Josh Edwards, Joe McLean and RaiDion Fails), scoring options (seniors Willie Brown and Johnnie Hickson) and veteran experience; five players return from last year's championship roster. They averaged 81 points per game at Hong Kong. And that title came without coach Steve Boyd having implemented all the defenses in his arsenal.

Pacific high school wrestling season preview

Following a resounding sweep of the DODDS-Pacific Far East High School Wrestling Tournament dual-meet and individual freestyle team titles, Kadena is doing anything butresting on its laurels.

Panthers coach Steve Schrock enjoys the "element of pride" that goes with the title "defending champion," but at the same says he tries "not to think about" the task of fending off would-be contenders and pretenders to the throne.

Shooting to fill big shoes; Robertson's three-point touch helping Kadena replace departed Barney

He won't remind anybody of the 6-foot-3, 200-pound mastodon that was Jamil Barney patrolling the pain last basketball season for defending Far East Boys Class AA Tournament runner-up Kadena.

But Taiyo Robertson, a slender 5-foot-11 sophomore, possesses a three-point touch and an ability to drive to the hole that makes him the latest in a long line of scoring options for the Panthers as they begin the regular season at home Friday against Kubasaki.

 
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Ornauer on AFN

 

Stars and Stripes reporter Dave Ornauer talks about the Pacific sports scene on AFN Radio. (Click on right arrow to play file.)

 

May 30: Recapping ASIJ's and Zama's Far East baseball championships that capped the Pacific high school sports school year..

May 23: A look back at the Far East track championships and a look ahead at the ongoing baseball finals..

May 9:High school track's postseason begins in Japan and the regular season comes to a close in soccer..