CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Call it a new spin on the term “physical education” for Kadena’s and Kubasaki’s basketball teams.
The high schoolers stepped into the world of adult ball this weekend in the 16th Martin Luther King Invitational Tournament for post-level and open teams composed of adult players.
Players and coaches from both sides of the aisle called it a win-win situation for each side.
“It will make us better,” said Kadena sophomore guard Desirae Seals after her Panthers led 23-20 at halftime before falling 51-39 to Korea’s Area I women’s team. “Even if we don’t win, it’s going to make us better.”
The prep players spent the weekend going up against bigger, quicker and more physical opponents, which coaches and players say can only help with their preparation for next month’s Far East tournaments.
“Experience is the big thing, and they have it,” Kubasaki boys coach Jon Fick said. “We’re playing bigger, stronger guys, and it gives us four, five or six games of just making game decisions. Getting that experience and making more game decisions.”
It also helps the teams see different playing styles.
“We never see zone” in high school ball on Okinawa, Fick said. “A lot of these teams run zones. It’s good for us to run against 2-3s and 3-2s. We’ll see that at Far East.”
In addition to physical toning, players said the MLK helps with mental preparation.
“I learn from these guys,” Kubasaki’s 6-foot-5 junior center Kentrell Key said. “They may criticize my game a little bit, but it toughens me up mentally.”
The adult teams enjoy the challenge of maintaining an edge against prep teams that they may take too lightly before stepping on the court, one assistant said.
“These girls are ready to play,” said Area I assistant Randy Behr. “They’re definitely very fundamentally well-coached, they move around, they’re pretty well conditioned.”
The MLK, a single round-robin and double-elimination playoff tournament, runs through Monday afternoon at the Foster Field House.
Seoul American’s girls team also experienced similarly physical play in Korea’s brand of MLK tournament, which began Saturday at Camp Humphreys’ Super Gym and Zoekler Gym and runs through Monday afternoon.
Kinnick wins in Eagles’ Nest; Falcons taking flight;CAJ beats ASIJ
It wasn’t easy, again, but Nile C. Kinnick’s boys ventured into a venue which has given them fits, Robert D. Edgren’s Eagles’ Nest, and emerged victorious 68-65. The Red Devils survived a third quarter in which the Eagles outscored them 28-12.
“It was ugly, but we pulled out a win,” said coach Mike Adair, whose Red Devils had four players enter the fourth quarter with four fouls; his son, Josh, fouled out.
After turning the ball over 32 times in a Wednesday loss to Seoul Foreign, Seoul American’s boys cut that number to 10 in a 60-23 rout at Seoul International on Friday.
“I was really proud of that,” coach Steve Boyd said. “Big improvement. One goal that we had and we obviously achieved it.”
Christian Academy Japan improved to 15-1 on the season, best in Japan, behind Charlie Hancock’s four three-point goals and 28 points in a 66-48 home victory over American School In Japan. Miles Peterson had 21 points for CAJ before leaving with a slight concussion in the fourth period.