Support our mission
Sophomore Jon Piekarczyk of the Osan American Cougars pulls up for a shot between Taejon Christian International Dragons defenders during Wednesday's Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference boys basketball game at the Cougar Palace, Osan Air Base, South Korea. The Cougars won, 67-31, with Piekarczyk scoring 13 points.

Sophomore Jon Piekarczyk of the Osan American Cougars pulls up for a shot between Taejon Christian International Dragons defenders during Wednesday's Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference boys basketball game at the Cougar Palace, Osan Air Base, South Korea. The Cougars won, 67-31, with Piekarczyk scoring 13 points. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — If it were a college course, you could call it Basketball Hard Knocks 101.

The Osan American Cougars took their lumps during the opening three days of the Osan Pacificwide Invitational Basketball Tournament, the first time in the event’s 16-year history that it’s welcomed high school teams.

The Cougars lost their first four round-robin games by an average of 37 points and had to forfeit the fifth on Wednesday morning as most of the players couldn’t be released from school commitments.

Those games still were beneficial, A.J. Scott said after Osan American ripped Taejon Christian International 67-31 in its first high school contest since entering the tournament.

“It’s paid off a lot,” Scott said.

After playing in the base’s spacious new sports and fitness center most of the week, Osan was happy to be back home and in a familiar environment, the team’s tiny Cougar Palace. The Dragons were smaller, less physical and a step slower than their military counterparts.

“You get hit out here, and it doesn’t feel like we’re getting hit,” said Scott. “We’re back here, we’re playing eight-minute quarters, the gym’s a lot smaller and we have a lot more stamina.”

Ten days ago, TCIS hung tough in a 50-30 loss to Osan. But the Cougars raced to a 21-6 lead on Wednesday and never looked back as Scott scored 16 points.

The invitational’s hard knocks will also pay off, Scott said, in future battles against larger schools such as Seoul American, which has beaten Osan American four times, and Seoul Foreign, which edged the Cougars 63-60 a week ago on a last-second shot.

“This will, of course, improve our chances against larger schools,” Scott said. “Playing post teams like this is like playing against big schools in the States. We’ll only get better.”

author picture
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.
twitter Email

Stripes in 7



around the web


Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up