TOKYO – When it comes to seeding teams for this week’s Far East High School Basketball Tournaments, not all the top dogs were created equal.
The Girls Division II Tournament at Robert D. Edgren features an unusual bracket, in which the top two seeds, defending champion Daegu of South Korea and No. 2 Morrison Academy of Taiwan, will play first-round games, while No. 7 Matthew C. Perry of Japan and No. 8 Yongsan International-Seoul will await the winners of those first-round outcomes.
Chris Waite, the tournament director, gave his rationale for the unique setup to DODDS Pacific Far East athletics coordinator Don Hobbs, who accepted Waite’s reasoning and approved the bracket, Hobbs said by phone Sunday after consulting with Waite earlier in the day.
“We’re going with the bracket as he set it up,” Hobbs said. “We’ll give it a try, we’ll see what happens and we’ll evaluate it later.”
Daegu faces International School of the Sacred Heart of Tokyo and Morrison takes on Osan American in the first round. The Game 1 winner then plays Perry and the Game 2 winner against YIS-Seoul.
The seeding and format raised some eyebrows among the tournament’s coaches. “I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said Perry coach Victor Rivera, who despite having to play one less game than Daegu said he didn’t like the format.
“It does seem odd,” coach Mimi Long of No. 3 seed E.J. King said.
The rest of the Far East High School Basketball Tournament field features Division I boys at Kubasaki, Division I girls at Yokota and D-II boysat Zama American. Teams tip off at 8 a.m. in D-I and 9 a.m. in D-II on Monday, with the D-II tournaments concluding Wednesday afternoon and the D-I tournaments on Thursday evening.
For the first time since 1986, the tournaments begin without the luxury of pool play to help seed teams into their respective playoff brackets. That process was done in advance, with pool play having been dropped as one of the cost-cutting measures imposed by DODDS Pacific in early December.
Tournament organizers and Hobbs used varying methods, to include win-loss record, history of each conference at Far East, past performance, head-to-head results where available and others.
“It isn’t perfect, but it’s close,” girls D-I tournament director Tim Pujol said last week.
Those formulas produced Daegu as the top seed of both the boys and girls D-II tournaments. Following the boys top seeds were four-time defending champion Morrison, YIS-Seoul and host Zama American. The girls seeds were almost a mirror image, with E.J. King replacing YIS-Seoul at No. 3.
In the Boys D-II tournament, each of the top four seeds got first-round byes. In D-I, the boys top seed is another defending champion and the tournament host, Kubasaki, which has won the title the last two years on Guam and now gets a chance at a three-peat on its home court. American School In Japan follows at No. 2, as are the Mustangs in the girls D-I bracket, with Kadena, last year’s runner-up, as the top seed. With 15 teams in the D-I tournaments, the only teams getting first-round byes are the top seeds.