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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — The Kubasaki Dragons played and felt like a group of girls frazzled and exhausted by a week of semester finals in the first half of Thursday’s Okinawa-American League game.

In the second half, the Dragons looked like their old selves, rallying from a 15-point halftime deficit to roar past the Futenma Red Brave, a Japanese team, 67-60.

It was the Dragons’ first game since placing fourth in the Martin Luther King Pacificwide Open Tournament, their highest finish in the event’s 13-year history.

But Kubasaki stumbled in the second quarter Thursday, as the fleet Red Brave outscored it 21-8 and took a 39-24 halftime lead.

A good halftime talk helped spark the rally, the Dragons said.

“We talked about just playing our game,” junior point guard Erin Foote said. “We said that all that was behind us, the MLK, the finals; it was time to play.”

“We just stepped up,” senior post player Shanon Sumter said.

Sumter scored eight of her 16 points in the third quarter as the Dragons switched from a variety of zones to a man-to-man defense and gradually pecked away at Futenma’s lead.

Kaleen Mathieu took over in the fourth quarter, scoring nine of her 15 points, including three foul shots that gave Kubasaki its first lead since the first quarter, 54-53.

Foote’s jumper from the right side put the Dragons ahead to stay 56-55. Kubasaki led by 10 down the stretch.

Futenma’s speed perhaps caught Kubasaki by surprise, coach Bob Driggs said, after playing the less quick but more physical interservice teams in the MLK.

“This is a quick outfit,” Driggs said. “They showed us some things we have to be better prepared for. Their shooting from the perimeter makes us work harder. We’ve just come from a week of being at a disadvantage on the boards. Games with the Japanese are track meets. But we’re coming.”


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