CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – After losing twice to arch-rival Kubasaki, the third time was the charm Friday for Kadena - thanks to a new addition in the backcourt.
Sean Broughton, a sophomore and son of Kadena coach Ray Broughton, scored 19 points and dished out seven assists as the Panthers rallied from a first-quarter deficit to hand the Dragons just their second loss in 23 games, 91-81, at the Dragons’ Den.
“He’s a great addition to our team,” fellow Panthers coach Robert Bliss said of the younger Broughton, who transferred to Kadena over the Christmas holiday from Kansas.
Broughton was one of five players in double-figure scoring for Kadena (12-8). Jason Sumpter “played the best he’s ever played,” Bliss said, with 27 points. “Great performance from all the guys.”
Kadena overcame what Bliss termed “lights-out shooting” from Kai Yamaguchi (26 points) and C.J. Crenshaw (25) for Kubasaki.
“Kubasaki played a great game; it reminded me a lot of five years ago, when we had some great games,” Bliss said. “We’re in for some exciting stuff the rest of the season.”
The teams face each other once more in Okinawa Activities Council regular-season play; Kubasaki still leads that series 2-1. But they’ll also see each other in next weekend’s Martin Luther King Invitational and the Okinawa-American Shootout Jan. 21-23.
“Our goal is to always go up against them, the higher level of competition,” Bliss said.
On the girls side, Kadena (5-6) wrapped up a second straight OAC season-series title, getting 20 points from Anissa Fitz to down Kubasaki 73-26. Kadena won the series 3-0, and experimented with new plays and a 3-2 zone trap used by the adult club Okinawa Mystics team.
“We did some things differently and they worked,” coach Mike Ochoa said, adding they played Friday with one eye on the MLK and Oki-Am Shootout. “We know it’s going to be really tough.”
Another team looking ahead to an MLK tournament was Seoul American’s girls (8-0), who won for the third time against a DODDS Korea foe this season, 60-32, at Daegu American. Liz Gleaves had 24 points and seven steals, Destinee Harrison 16 points and Jordan Elliott eight steals.
The Falcons play in the MLK at Camp Humphreys next weekend. “We know the competition will be tough,” Falcons coach Billy Ratcliff said of Korea post-level teams featuring seasoned college veterans. “But we’re playing good ball. Those post teams will have to work to beat us.”
Seoul American’s boys (17-4), also tuning up for the Humphreys MLK, also remained unbeaten against DODDS Korea opponents, beating Daegu 63-38 as former Warrior Tyrone Beckem had 16 points and five rebounds.
Visiting teams had their way on the first day of two-day weekend DODDS Japan series, with Zama’s boys and girls winning at Matthew C. Perry and Nile C. Kinnick doing the same at E.J. King.
Perry’s boys led by 22 at halftime, and had to fend off a tenacious Trojans press in the second half to win 55-52.
“We kind of lost control for a minute, but still had enough to pull it out,” said Samurai coach Dewayne Pigge’ after his first game back from emergency leave to care for his father, who died of cancer in December. John Ayers led the Samurai with 26 points.
Briana Myrick’s 22 points powered Zama’s girls past Perry, 48-31. At Sasebo, Mashiya McKinney scored 18 as Kinnick’s girls quelled the Cobras, 39-32, while Malik White had 14 points as the Red Devils boys outlasted E.J. King, 57-38.
Kubasaki student-journalist Miasha Nakahara contributed to this report.