Box-and-one zone defenses seemed to be the bane of coach Samuel Williams and guard De’Asia Brown’s existence, as was their inability to beat the American School In Japan over the course of the last two seasons.
Enter Alyshia Allison, a sophomore transfer with high school and AAU experience in her prior locale, Tennessee.
A pure point guard, Allison proved to be the perfect complement for Brown, a pure shooter, and fueled Nile C. Kinnick to the DODDS Japan regular-season and tournament titles and its first Far East Division I Tournament title since 2001.
“Alyshia was such a tremendous difference maker not only because she’s a pure point guard, but is also a tenacious and terrific defender,” Williams said. “Her ability to intelligently pressure the ball, make steals and outrebound other guards is one that is far in advance of her 10th-grade year.”
Allison, who played her freshman season at Munford (Tenn.) High and also played AAU ball for Hoop Family Elite of Memphis, averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, five steals and 7.5 assists in her first year at Kinnick.
The Red Devils went 23-3 this season and captured the DODDS Japan tournament on Feb. 9 at Robert D. Edgren, downing Yokota 47-37 in the title game.
And they finally solved their Mustangs demons in the D-I Tournament at Yokota, beating ASIJ 34-27 in the champion-bracket final, then surviving a two-game final, losing to the Mustangs 57-53 in overtime before prevailing in the second, deciding game 45-32.
For her efforts, Allison has been named Stars and Stripes Pacific high school girls basketball Player of the Year.
As teams continued to box-and-one Brown, who averaged 28 points per game despite that, Williams opted to put the ball more in Allison’s hands, he said to take pressure off Brown and create more opportunities for her to score.
“When you add to the equation the fact that she’s playing opposite the most dynamic scoring guard in the Pacific, another highly advanced 10th-grader, the reason for her (Allison’s) success becomes even more obvious and understandable,” Williams said.
Observers within and outside the Kinnick program called the Red Devils’ backcourt the best the school has had since their D-I title teams of 1995 and 1996. Senior center Mashiya McKinney also benefitted from Allison’s presence, averaging 14 points, in part due to Allison’s playmaking.
“She’s focused, intense and unrelenting. She goes after every ball with smart and calculated intentions. She’s very coachable, extremely disciplined and fiercely competitive, she’s extremely versatile and can play any position on the court with equal results.”
All-Far East team
Alyshia Allison, Nile C. Kinnick
De’Asia Brown, Nile C. Kinnick
Bessie Noll, American School In Japan
Tara Long, E.J. King
Hanna Kim, Morrison Academy