Kubasaki, Yokota get to answer 'What if?' - sort of

By DAVE ORNAUER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 28, 2016

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – They each won their respective Far East tournament titles last February. Now Kubasaki’s and Yokota’s boys get a chance to square off on Saturday in a meeting between 2015’s Division I and II champions.

But while it’s being viewed by both parties as a nice opportunity for inter-district play, part of the coaches and players on each team wonder what might have happened had the two teams met last February.

Due to a drop in enrollment, Yokota just three months before Far East, on, Nov. 18, 2014, had been made a Division II school.

At the time, some Yokota players expressed disappointment and said they’d been looking forward to a shot at the school’s first D-I title since 2006; in fact, some observers felt Yokota could have won D-I.

“It would have been interesting to see how that game would have played out,” Yokota coach Dan Galvin said of a hypothetical Dragons-Panthers all-divisions showdown.

He watched the 2006 team win Far East under Paul Ettl, and said the 2015 Yokota team “was just as good. I haven’t coached for very long, but that was the best team I’ve ever seen.”

As it is, the Panthers are still 15-4, and while “not the same team as last year” without graduated Jadan Anderson and Jermaine Neal, “we’re still a good solid core, we’re still a good team. It will be interesting to see how we do against that group,” Galvin said.

Yokota brings a solid starting five, featuring double-figure scoring junior Hunter Cort and senior Marcus Henagan, to a game slated for 9:30 a.m. Saturday at American School In Japan against a Dragons team fueled by seniors Jacob Green, Matt Ashley and Skylor Stevens.

All five players were on the rosters of their respective teams a season ago, when the Dragons beat Kadena 76-64 for the D-I title and Yokota topped Matthew C. Perry 58-48 and 78-50 in a two-game D-II final.

“I would have liked our chances,” said coach Jon Fick of Kubasaki, which won its fourth D-I title in just nine seasons – the quickest any coach has gone to four championships after starting to coach a team.

“That was a good team, they had a good coach, Jadan, Henagan and Co., they were a tough group.”

For the Dragons, who’ve won 27 straight games dating back to last season, their date with Yokota is the second of three games they’ll play at ASIJ over the weekend. They face the host Mustangs at 3:30 p.m. Friday, then St. Mary’s on Saturday afternoon.

It’s been a busy schedule of inter-district games for Kubasaki this season. They, Kadena and Okinawa Christian co-hosted Taipei American and Jakarta International Jan. 7-10, then traveled to Taiwan to play Taipei American, Morrison Academy and Chinese schools over the Martin Luther King weekend.


Twitter: @ornauer_stripes

Senior point guard Jacob Green, right, and the Kubasaki Dragons take on Yokota on Saturday at American School In Japan in a showdown between the reigning Far East Divisions I and II Tournament champions.
Tatiana Zamora/Special to Stars and Stripes


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