KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Ten months after their last game, the Kadena Panthers look like they haven’t lost a step.

Theresa Gittens scored 30 points and Katie LaGrave 21 as the defending Far East High School Girls Class AA Basketball Tournament champions romped 93-73 over the Urasoe-Shogyo Red Star in their season opener.

According to second-year coach Ken Hudson, the best may be yet to come.

“It’s early in the season yet,” he said of a team that’s played one scrimmage in addition to Friday’s game.

“It’s reasonable to assume that we’ll get better. We haven’t peaked by any stretch of the imagination,” he said.

Judging from the performance of Gittens and LaGrave, they don’t have much further to go.

Point guard Gittens was a press-breaker at times against a much shorter but quick Red Star squad that hit 17 three-point goals.

“Theresa’s ball-handling skills make everybody on the court play better,” Hudson said.

Then there was LaGrave, who found her shooting zone in the second quarter.

She hit four straight jump shots from various distances, part of a 28-7 run that rallied Kadena from an eight-point first-quarter deficit to a 47-28 lead in the second.

“It just happens,” she said of her hot shooting streaks. “I just try to keep shooting. My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball.”

Despite the one-sided outcome, Hudson said there are some things his team can work on to get better.

“Our defense isn’t there yet,” he said. “We have some defenses we want to run. And we have some role players who haven’t seen some action yet who are quite capable. It’s a matter of getting everybody to execute.”

But the performance by the seven players who saw significant minutes was “outstanding,” Hudson said. “I can’t ask for any more.”

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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.

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