ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam – At season’s beginning, seniors Kentrell Key and Kai Yamaguchi vowed to exit their Kubasaki basketball careers as Far East Division I Tournament champions. That dream came true in Saturday’s championship game against Seoul American.

Yamaguchi scored 14 points and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, and the Dragons broke the game open in the second quarter, only to hold off a late rally and beat the Falcons, 70-58, for their Pacific-record 10th Division I Tournament title.

“I feel ecstatic, for them and everybody else on the team,” coach Jon Fick said. “The sacrifices that all the teammates made led to a real outstanding season put together by real outstanding players. They’re three-year players, they finally got here and they deserve this.”

But it wasn’t easy. The Dragons (41-8) had to fend off a Falcons team in its sixth Center Court appearance since 2003 with three titles to their credit. Seoul American (36-8) kept the contest close at the start with good shooting; Kubasaki led by just 19-15 after one period.

“Seoul American is an outstanding team,” Fick said. “We knew we’d have our hands full. They got hot early, and we wanted to get the upper hand with defensive pressure and attacking with the ball upcourt and that’s what we did.”

With Ryan Jackson scoring 17 points and A.J. Watson 11, Kubasaki raced to a 25-point third-quarter lead. But the Falcons, with Tyrone Beckem (17 points, five assists), Tomiwa Akinbayo (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Bryant McCray (13, 6) contributing, chipped away at the lead.

“And all of a sudden, it’s back down to 12 points,” Fick said. “We couldn’t sit back, and that’s a testament to the type of team that Seoul has.”

Despite not getting any closer, Falcons coach Steve Boyd expressed pride in his team’s performance.

“We accomplished some things this season that people didn’t think we’d do this season,” said Boyd, whose Falcons placed 15th in last year’s tournament at Yokota Air Base, Japan, and should haev five people returning from this year’s group next season.

“Kubasaki’s a fine team. We played them tough, but we did things that you can’t do against a good team. But this is a good building block for the future.”

Kira Reyman is a member of Guam High School’s journalism group. Stars and Stripes sports reporter Dave Ornauer contributed to this report.

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