Support our mission

Numbers have a way of revealing trends in DODDS-Pacific Far East High School Basketball Tournaments. Such as the way international schools have pretty much held sway in Class A since the inception of the boys tournament in 1983 and the girls event in 1990.

International schools have won 11 of the 18 Girls Class A tournaments, including three of the past six; the boys’ ledger shows only 10 of 26 titles won by DODDS schools, including the past five.

What puts DODDS teams at such disadvantages, and what must they do to overcome what are apparently long odds?

Continuity, both in keeping players throughout high school years and coaches who are in it for the long haul, is perhaps the major reason for the international-school monolith. DODDS athletes are generally at small schools for two years and gone, as are many coaches.

"Those kids play sport after sport together, and they do it for four years," said coach Michelle Chandler of the last DODDS girls team to win a Class A title, Daegu American. "Here, we have kids for two years and we have trouble sometimes just finding enough kids to play."

Despite having won four Class A titles, three with Osan American and one with now-defunct Pusan American, Osan girls coach Bruce Barker said it takes a combination of talent and building team chemistry in a hurry. And he’s not always blessed with the former, he says.

"They’re disciplined, their kids execute on the court, they don’t give up, they don’t get down on themselves. The game is 32 minutes long, and they play right to the end," said Barker, who has just three returnees on his Cougars roster.

Players who bond together for a number of years can predict each other’s moves and read the tone of each other’s voices on the court; players who stay for a blink of an eye and leave can’t develop that, Barker said.

"They have kids for a number of years. It makes a difference," he said.

So why don’t DODDS-Pacific Class AA schools have the same problem? Larger enrollments is why, Barker said.

Seoul American, with more than two times Osan’s enrollment, "has more of a player pool to choose from," Barker said.

A season ago, with Kristia and Rizalina Suriben in the backcourt and Samantha and Nicole Bossert crashing the boards, E.J. King’s girls rang up a 19-7 regular-season record. This year, with all four gone, the Cobras have yet to win a game.

"Last year, we had a pretty solid team in terms of age, seniors and experience," coach Michael Seitz said. "This year, we have no seniors, three juniors and the rest are brand new to basketball. And our win-loss record reflects that, especially against international schools."

Faced with those disadvantages, what’s a DODDS coach to do?

Daegu boys coach Phillip Loyd insists that all teams, DODDS or otherwise, have ability; like Barker, Loyd says it’s the ability to play all 32 minutes relentlessly that separates good from bad teams.

"I try to narrow their focus, get them to understand those things and that if they don’t go in focused and play their best basketball every time we go up against those teams, they’re going to lose, and lose badly," Loyd said.

"They know what to look for, they know what to do, they fill find those weaknesses and exploit them. And the next thing you know, you’re in a hole you can’t get out of."

Keeping focus in practice is another method, Barker said. "The more you practice, the more you know exactly what to do," he said.

At the very least, especially where a team with a winless record is concerned, a coach stresses to players to seek every benefit they can.

"My kids are looking forward to seeing Far East, good basketball that the international schools play, something to compare themselves to," Seitz said. "And hopefully, that will send them back to the court to practice some more. And next year, they’ll know what they have to do to win. It’s an obstacle, but if you look at the whole picture, you can get a whole lot of positives out of it."

Class A tournament capsules

BoysDates: Feb. 16-20, 2009.Host school: Robert D. Edgren High School, Misawa Air Base, Japan.Sites: Eagles Nest, Robert D. Edgren High School, and Potter Fitness Center, Misawa Air Base, Japan.

Participating teams: Robert D. Edgren Eagles, Misawa Air Base, Japan; Osan American Cougars, Osan Air Base, South Korea; St. Paul Christian Warriors, Tamuning, Guam; Morrison Christian Academy Mustangs, Taichung, Taiwan; E.J. King Cobras, Sasebo Naval Base, Japan; Matthew C. Perry Samurai, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan; Daegu American Warriors, Camp George, South Korea; Yongsan International-Seoul Guardians (defending champion); Korea International Phoenix, Pangyo, South Korea; Hokkaido International Huskies, Sapporo, Japan.

Returning All-Far East players: Stephen Hovater, Morrison Christian Academy; Guy Mosley, St. Paul Christian.

Format: Round-robin, 12 teams in two pools of six each, first two days. Modified double-elimination playoffs with consolation, all 12 teams eligible, last three days.

Schedule: Opening ceremony, 8:45 a.m. Monday at Potter Fitness Center. First pool-play games, 10 a.m. Monday; last pool-play games, 8 p.m. Tuesday. Playoffs begin, 10 a.m. Wednesday. Championship, 4 p.m. Friday, second game if necessary at 5:30 p.m. All-Star game vs. Hirosaki Jitsugyo following championship game; awards ceremony to follow All-Star game.

Awards: Trophies to top five teams, Most Valuable Player, 14 All-Tournament team selections.

GirlsDates: Feb. 16-20, 2009.Host: Matthew C. Perry High School, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.Sites: Ironworks Fitness & Sports Center and Samurai Gymnasium, Matthew C. Perry High School, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.

Participants: International School of the Sacred Heart Symbas, Tokyo; Daegu American Warriors, Camp George, South Korea; Robert D. Edgren Eagles, Misawa Air Base, Japan; Osan American Cougars, Osan Air Base, South Korea; St. Paul Christian Warriors, Tamuning, Guam; Morrison Christian Academy Mustangs, Taichung, Taiwan; E.J. King Cobras, Sasebo Naval Base, Japan; Seisen International Phoenix, Japan; Matthew C. Perry Samurai, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan; Yongsan International-Seoul Guardians; Korea International Phoenix, Pangyo, South Korea; Hiroshima International Cranes, Hiroshima, Japan; International Christian-Uijongbu Eagles, Uijeongbu, South Korea.

Returning All-Far East player: Hannah Arbour, International School of the Sacred Heart.

Format: Round-robin, 13 teams split into four pools, one of four teams, the others of three, first two days. Modified double-elimination with consolation, all 13 teams eligible, last three days.

Schedule: First round-robin games, 9 a.m. Monday; last round-robin games, 5:45 p.m. Tuesday. Skills competition, Tuesday afternoon. First playoff games, 9 a.m. Wednesday. Championship game, 12:30 p.m. Friday with second game if necessary to follow. Pool A vs. Pool B All-Star Game, 5 p.m. Friday; closing ceremony to follow.

Awards: Trophies to top three teams, Most Valuable Player, All-Tournament selections.

author picture
Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.
twitter Email

Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up