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Kubasaki’s Mechi Fletcher drives past Reiko Uchida of Urasoe Commercial High School Friday at Camp Foster, Okinawa. Fletcher scored a team-high 25 points as Kubasaki earned its first victory over a Japanese team this season 87-74.
Kubasaki’s Mechi Fletcher drives past Reiko Uchida of Urasoe Commercial High School Friday at Camp Foster, Okinawa. Fletcher scored a team-high 25 points as Kubasaki earned its first victory over a Japanese team this season 87-74. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

Class AA basketball teams had their hands full with their Class A opponents Friday as the DODDS-Japan league began its played its first full weekend of play.

E.J. King’s girls scored only their second victory over Zama American since the 1997 season, Zama’s boys prevailed in a shootout against the Cobras’ boys and Yokota’s boys and girls needed late fourth-quarter rallies to escape with victories over Matthew C. Perry at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station.

“I’m very happy,” E.J. King third-year girls coach Bridget Vertin said after the Cobras downed the Trojans 49-32, improving to 9-0.

“The girls were aggressive, they were rebounding and that was their best defensive game of the season.”

Vertin said she knew at the start of the season she’d get scoring from junior guard Kristia Suriben (18 points) and senior forward Yudia Johnson (14), but defense, led by Suriben and her freshman sister Rizalina, has stepped up to become the Cobras’ X-factor, Vertin said.

“The Suribens just cover the court,” she said of full-court pressure that forced the Trojans to shoot from the perimeter; Zama’s inside players were held to seven points.

Vertin stopped well short of suggesting her Cobras are a threat to win the Class A tournament title in February at Taegu, South Korea. Nor would she make comparisons to her previous two teams. “This is a different team this season,” she said.

Yokota’s boys coach Paul Ettl and girls coach Ric Cabral left little doubt Matthew C. Perry is a far more competitive program than the boys team that has combined to go 18-38 the past two seasons; the girls are 15-45 over the past two seasons.

“They’ll be tough at Class A,” Ettl said after Yokota used a 20-10 fourth quarter to pull away for a 53-43 victory over the Samurai (5-4). “They were tough against Class AA tonight.”

Perry had three starters foul out. “Otherwise, it’s an even game,” Ettl said, citing turnovers as a main reason the Samurai stayed in it. “That’s the best (Samurai) team I’ve seen in four or five years. They’re big, they have some speed, their coach is doing a good job with them.”

Yokota’s girls similarly had their hands full until two Samurai starters fouled out and Cabral used a box-and-one defense on Perry guard Cristina Sindac, holding her to 10 points.

“They look better,” Cabral said of the 6-4 Samurai. “They’ve got some speed out there. They’re going to give somebody a problem” during the Class A tournament.

Zama’s boys used their height along with scoring from red-hot guard Wilberto Badillo (26 points, five three-pointers) and led the whole way over the Cobras, who suffered their first loss in eight games. But Trojans’ coach Tom Allensworth praised his foes’ persistence.

“They’re pretty tough. They’re the best team we’ve faced this season,” Allensworth said. “For their size, they rebound and they shoot the ball.”

Dragons girls get first win against Japanese oppositionCAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Kubasaki’s girls already had lost their first two games against Okinawa-American League Japanese teams — and falling behind 23-15 in the first quarter didn’t help to halt that trend.

But the Dragons rallied, outscoring Urasoe Commercial High School 24-13 in the second quarter and coming away with an 87-74 home triumph.

“We’re starting to put the pieces together, starting to understand what defense is about,” said coach Bob Driggs, whose Dragons improved to 5-4, including a 4-2 ledge at the 37th Hong Kong International School Holiday Tournament last month.

“It’s good to see a team effort where everybody’s a part of it. We’re a young group but we’re looking at trying to grow a bit each time and get ready for Far East. Hong Kong was a step, and these (Japanese) teams are quick and can shoot from outside. We’re lucky to have the opportunity to play these kinds of teams.”

Far East H.S. scoreboardOkinawa boys basketball

Kadena 85, Futenma 77 Friday, at FutenmaKadena..........19 14 23 29—85Futenma..........16 19 21 21—77Scorers-Kadena, Jamil Barney 19 (12 fourth quarter), Rakim West 16, Shmarua Phelps 14, Josh Greggs 12. Rebounders-Kadena, Jamil Barney 14, Rakim West 12.

Okinawa girls basketball

Kadena 73, Urasoe 65 Friday, at UrasoeKadena..........16 22 22 13—73Urasoe..........16 21 21 7—65Scorer-Kadena, Zori Drew 21. Rebounder-Kadena, Brittney Gilliam 16. Noteworthy-Danielle Medford scored six straight points to close third quarter to put Panthers ahead to stay.

Kubasaki 87, Urasoe Shogyo 74 Friday, at Camp FosterUrasoe Shogyo..........23 13 20 18—74Kubasaki..........18 24 24 21—87Scorers-Kubasaki, Mechi Fletcher 25, Raelene Tajalle 15, M.J. Townsel 13.

South Korea boys basketball

Yongsan International-Seoul 80, Korea Kent Foreign 48 Thursday, at SeoulKent..........19 11 14 4—48Yongsan..........21 16 23 18—80Scorers-Yongsan International-Seoul, Daniel Han 27; Korea Kent Foreign, David Lee 22. Rebounder-Yongsan International-Seoul, Daniel Han 18.

Japan boys basketball

Nile C. Kinnick 45, Robert D. Edgren 40 Friday, at Yokosuka Naval Base, JapanEdgren..........11 14 6 9—40Kinnick..........10 20 8 7—45Scorers-Nile C. Kinnick, Victor Mason 13; Robert D. Edgren, Darrick Lang 13, Kirk Chin 11.

Zama American 64, E.J. King 53 Friday, at Sasebo Naval BaseZama..........18 18 20 8—64E.J. King..........8 21 17 7—53Scorers-Zama American, Wilberto Badillo 26 (5 three-point goals), Sean Wise 12; E.J. King, Fernando Rico 18 (6 three-point goals), Dominique Johnson 14.

Yokota 53, Matthew C. Perry 43 Friday, at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air StationYokota..........9 15 9 20—53Perry..........14 11 8 10—43Scorers-Yokota, Caiveon Thomas 21; Matthew C. Perry, Justin Narciso 10.

Japan girls basketball

E.J. King 49, Zama American 32 Friday, at Sasebo Naval BaseZama..........0 15 4 13—32E.J. King..........11 11 15 12—49Scorers-E.J. King, Kristia Suriben 18, Yudia Johnson 14; Zama American, Cristina Eustaquio 12. Noteworthy-Cobras begin season 9-0, best start in nine seasons.

Yokota 40, Matthew C. Perry 35 Friday, at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air StationYokota..........4 11 5 20—40Perry..........11 6 7 11—35Scorers-Yokota, Lauryn Thomas 13; Matthew C. Perry, Cristina Sindac 10. Rebounder-Matthew C. Perry, DeAndrea Taylor 10.

Guam boys soccer

Guam High 3, John F. Kennedy 2, SO (3-0) Thursday, At Upper TumonGuam High..........1 1—2JFK..........0 2—2Regulation goals-Guam High, Chris Putnam 1, Allen Moos 1; John F. Kennedy, Mike Alljos 1, Christian Mafnas 1. Shootout goals-Guam High, Chris Putnam, Ray Tenorio, Allen Moos.

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