Freshmen lead Edgren to upset of Zama
St. Mary's International's Riku Osawa gets the advantage on Nile C. Kinnick's Zach Yoder in the 141-pound championship bout during Saturday's Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools Wrestling Finals at Yokota Air Base, Japan. Osawa beat Yoder, but Kinnick won the team title.
Stars and Stripes
Khaleem Shabazz and Isaiah Murphy picked the perfect time to shine.
The freshman guards sparked a second-half rally Saturday that carried Robert D. Edgren to a stunning 70-53 upset of Zama American and the Eagles' second straight DODDS Japan Boys Basketball Tournament title.
“It was definitely a coming-out party for our two freshmen,” coach Andre Thibert said of Shabazz, who scored all but two of his 11 points in the second half and assisted Murphy six times as the latter scored 16 points off the bench as the Eagles rallied from a 26-19 third-period deficit.
The victory snapped the Trojans’ 15-game winning streak. Zama hadn’t lost since falling to Edgren at Misawa 54-51 on Dec. 14. Zama beat Edgren 72-57 and 79-61 on Jan. 25-26 at home.
Zama seemed prime to make it three in a row over the Eagles, contesting every first-half Edgren shot and the Eagles committed nine turnovers. Murphy then took over, hitting three three-point goals. Edgren clawed back and outscored the Trojans 25-9 over a 6½-minute span to close the third period.
Murphy scored six more points in the final period as the Eagles pulled away after the Trojans cut it to 55-49 on consecutive David Coleman layups.
It was the second straight year the Eagles came out of the knockout bracket to capture the DODDS Japan title. Murphy and Shabazz are the younger brothers of Edgren seniors Louis Murphy (16 points) and tournament MVP Khalil Williams (13). Coleman led the Trojans with 17 points and Parish Jones had 11.
On the girls’ side, favored Kinnick captured the tournament title, but not without a tussle early on in a 47-37 triumph over Yokota.
The Panthers threw a box-and-one zone defense aimed at neutralizing high-scoring Red Devils shooting guard De’Asia Brown, and succeeded, holding her to six first-half points. But Brown erupted for 22 in the second half and Kinnick led by as many as 15 points, then held off a late Panthers rally.
“She put the team on her back, realized what was at stake, a championship, and she wasn’t going to leave without one,” coach Samuel Williams said.
Yokota’s Brianna Harris, the tournament’s MVP, had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Mashiya McKinney of Kinnick led both sides with 17 rebounds.
Kinnick also sparkled on the mats in Saturday’s Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools wrestling finals, getting titles from Eddie Sheridan (101 pounds), Jianni Labato (108), Keith Grogg (148) and Daniel Costello in an upset of Yokota’s Jake Jackson at 215 pounds. The Red Devils beat second-place St. Mary’s International 95-79, with Zama American third with 52 points.
“It was a good day for the guys,” Kinnick coach Gary Wilson said. “Even our tough losses were good losses.”
Kalik Battle of Yokota earned Outstanding Wrestler honors, working a two-period decision over Kinnick’s Marvin Newbins. “He (Battle) was on a mission. That match was pretty intense,” Wilson said. “Marvin wrestled well. He just couldn’t stop it.”
Jeff Koo of St. Mary’s, a reigning Far East champion, eked out a three-period decision over Kinnick’s Alex Banks. “The whole match was that close,” Wilson said. “Great job by both guys. The highlight of the tournament.”
The victory put Kinnick in the thick of the Far East title chase Feb. 19-21 at Yokosuka Naval Base, one coach said.
“Don’t sleep on Kinnick,” Yokota coach Brian Kitts said.