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Shmarua PhelpsBasketball

Kadena, Okinawa

Dec. 15 - Jan. 6: Played a crucial role in two victories for the Panthers, their ninth straight win over island-rival Kubasaki 102-88 on Dec. 15 at Camp Foster and a 56-55 edging of Yokota in Saturday’s championship game in the inaugural New Year’s Classic at Yokota High School in Japan.

Phelps, a senior, scored 28 of his 32 points in the second half, shooting 13-for-24 from the field and 6-for-8 from the foul line against Kubasaki. He followed that with 18 points, eight in the fourth quarter, plus four blocks and four steals to rally Kadena from a 14-point first-quarter deficit against Yokota. The Panthers are 9-9 this season.

“When he gets the confidence going, he wants the ball in those situations,” coach Robert Bliss said of Phelps. “Once he gets going like that, we try to get the ball into his hands.”

Ashley TaylorBasketball

Matthew C. Perry, Japan

Dec. 15-Jan. 6: Led the way with a pair of double-doubles in scoring and rebounding as the Samurai swept two Japan Basketball League weekend games on Dec. 15 and 16 and improved to 10-5 overall and 4-3 in the JBL — the team’s best start in five seasons.

Taylor, a senior, scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Samurai’s 42-35 victory over Nile C. Kinnick on Dec. 15 at Yokosuka Naval Base — following a 12-hour bus ride — then followed that with another double-double, 21 points and 19 boards, as the Samurai downed Robert D. Edgren 58-36 on Dec. 16 at Yokota Air Base.

“She’s an essential player to the team under the board scoring and rebounding,” second-year Samurai coach Lauren Hunt said of Taylor. “She always has a great attitude both on and off the court. She is a consistent player and is good under pressure.”

— Selected by Stars and Stripes staff

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