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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — It wasn’t exactly the “welcome back” Bob Driggs was hoping for.

After a 12-year hiatus, Driggs returned to the Kubasaki girls basketball team, only to watch his charges fall Saturday against Chubu-Shogyo in the Lady Dragons’ Okinawa-American League opener.

“This brings back a lot of memories,” said Driggs, owner of three Class AA Far East titles, who guided the club from 1980-92, then took a lengthy break from the game.

His teams have played many games against the likes of ChuSho, a team short on size but long on full-court speed and defense, with an eye for shooting three-pointers.

“They’re such a quick team,” Driggs said of ChuSho, which made five first-half threes and used relentless pressure to grab a 39-17 lead midway through the second quarter. “They’re a great outside shooting team. They just light it up.”

But the Lady Dragons, who were eighth in last year’s Class AA tournament after winning it in 2002, refused to quit.

Driggs adjusted his defense, playing a spread 2-1-2 zone with the guards moving up on the perimeter to try to deny the three-point shot.

Kubasaki’s size advantage led to a gaggle of rebounds, followed by quick outlet passes that produced layups or short inside shots.

Slowly, the Lady Dragons chipped away, tying it 52-52 on Atana Grady’s jumper from the left with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter and finally going ahead 62-61 on junior guard Erin Foote’s basket from the lane with 8:38 left.

Kubasaki stretched the lead to five. But another burst of pressure and a flurry of baskets by ChuSho triggered a 13-2 run for an 80-71 lead with 2:10 left. The Lady Dragons again rallied to within three, but got no closer.

Despite the defeat, Driggs felt his team showed its potential.

“I was pleased,” he said, adding that the rallies showed his club demonstrated “the right attitude [and] hustle. We just need to put the right parts together.”

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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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