CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Though he’s playing his first year of organized basketball, Kadena Panthers sophomore forward Z’aire Jackson is leaving an impression on Okinawa high school basketball.

In the first of this season’s four meetings between the Panthers and their Okinawa Activities Council arch-rival, the Kubasaki Dragons, Jackson scored 10 of his 14 points in the second quarter and grabbed 12 rebounds on Tuesday to power the Panthers to an 83-54 victory.

Jackson has averaged 13.2 points and 10.2 rebounds and recorded 19 steals in Kadena’s first five games — and coach Brian Hill says, “He’s still learning the game.”

Jackson is to be at Kadena until he graduates, Hill said.

“If you watch him play defense, he understands the game better than anybody I’ve ever seen,” the coach said. “He reads the man, he reads the ball, he knows how to cut off the passing lane. On offense, he picks, he screens, he rebounds; he loves basketball more than life.”

Jackson’s 10 points in the second quarter helped Kadena (4-1) pull away from the Dragons. Kadena led 37-21 at halftime, scored the first 13 points of the third and didn’t look back.

Kadena dropped three of four games against Kubasaki last season. But the pendulum — in a rivalry pitting the most decorated teams in Pacific basketball history — may be swinging back.

“Historically, that’s happened over the years,” Kubasaki coach Chris Sullivan said. “Kubasaki steps up one year, then Kadena steps up the next.”

The Dragons went 18-13 last season; the Panthers were 13-21.

The question, Hill said, is whether the Panthers can maintain the momentum. “We just have to keep our act together,” he said. “We have a very athletic team. They love basketball more than anything. Things are coming together. But it’s still too early.”

Eleven of Hill’s 12 players scored, paced by Dajuan Kindell, with 17. Elton Sessoms put in 14 and reserve John Turner added 12 points. Shot-blocking specialist Marvin Myrick swatted four of five shots in the first quarter and had four steals.

Sophomore Mike Goodman, one of Sullivan’s handful of first-year varsity players, scored 17 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Junior Ronnie Stephens chipped 16 points and 16 rebounds and Eric Auzenne added 15 points.

Tuesday's summaries

Boys basketball

Nile C. Kinnick 76, Zama American 46

At Camp Zama, Japan

Halftime — Kinnick 33, Zama 30. Leading scorers — Kinnick, Brenden Lynce 18, Travis Ekmark 14, Leonard Lynce 13, Kevin Logan 11, Julius Tilley 10; Zama, Corey Stacy 16, Donovan Nance 16. Leading rebounders — Kinnick, Travis Ekmark 16, Brenden Lynce 15; Zama, Corey Stacy 8, Jehan Brown 7. Notable — Zama hung with Kinnick until middle of third period, then Red Devils made it five wins in five games by outscoring Trojans 26-6 in fourth quarter.

Kadena 83, Kubasaki 54

At Camp Foster, Okinawa

Halftime — Kadena 37, Kubasaki 21. Leading scorers — Kadena, Dajuan Kindell 17, Z’aire Jackson 14, Elton Sessoms 14, John Turner 12; Kubasaki, Mike Goodman 17, Ronnie Stephens 16, Eric Auzenne 15. Leading rebounders — Kadena, Z’aire Jackson 12, Marvin Myrick 7; Kubasaki, Ronnie Stephens 16, Mike Goodman 12. Steals — Kadena, Marvin Myrick 4. Blocked shots — Kadena, Marvin Myrick 5. Notable — Kadena led from start to finish, using 7-0 run to go up 12-2 in first 3:20, then a 13-0 run to open third period. Panthers led by as many as 35 points.

Girls basketball

Nile C. Kinnick 57, Yokota 34

At Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan

Leading scorers — Kinnick, Carol Tully 17, Jasmine Jordan 12, Lu Johnson 10; Yokota, Danita Ross 19. Leading rebounders — Kinnick, Carol Tully 15, Jasmine Jordan 7; Yokota, Danita Ross 13, Jena Koning 8. Steals — Kinnick, Carol Tully 8. Assists — Kinnick, Carol Tully 5. Notable — Red Devils improved to 10-0.

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.

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