SEOUL — Put Osan American and Seoul Foreign on the court for a boys basketball game and you can almost bet the house it’ll be a close contest.

Friday’s Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference battle was no different. Unlike Seoul Foreign’s 64-63 overtime victory on Dec. 15, the Cougars got their way this time, edging the Crusaders 49-47 and ruining their homecoming.

“Absolutely amazing,” said Seoul Foreign coach J.P. Rader of what’s becoming the league’s best rivalry. “It’s been fun. It’s been remarkable. And each game has been hard-fought.”

The teams have met six times during the past three regular seasons, with each winning three times. Three of those six games went to overtime and two were won on buzzer-beating shots.

“Tonight could have easily gone to overtime,” Rader said after the Crusaders lost for the first time in seven games this season. Osan improved to 5-3 in league and 5-6 overall.

What has made this such a close rivalry?

“We’re well-matched,” said Rader, who has coached Seoul Foreign since 1989-90 and played for the Crusaders in the late 1970s.

“Sizewise and in terms of quickness, we match up well with each other, and for some reason we’ve found a rhythm against each other. We tend to know each other’s tendencies very well. And all the games seem to end up close even though during the course of the game, they aren’t close,” he said.

On Friday, the Cougars burst out to a 12-2 first-quarter edge, led by 15 at halftime and entered the final quarter with a 35-23 lead before the Crusaders scored 24 points in the last eight minutes.

Seoul Foreign chopped the lead in half the first two minutes of the period, then got within two points twice, with 3:30 left and with 16 seconds left.

The Crusaders had two chances to tie the game but missed both ends of two-shot free-throw situations. With 6.6 seconds left, Osan missed a chance to seal it by missing two foul shots. The Crusaders moved upcourt but Chris Chang’s three-point try came after the buzzer.

Chris Durham and Cory Black each paced Osan with 14 points, while Seoul Foreign’s Andrew Jasper led all scorers with 21.

Kinnick boys edge St. Mary's to stay unbeaten

TOKYO — Nile C. Kinnick’s boys remained perfect, but not without experiencing a scare at St. Mary’s.

“We were kind of expecting that,” coach Nathan Brewster said after the Red Devils (12-0) rallied from a four-point halftime deficit to pull away in the fourth quarter for a 66-53 victory over the Titans.

“(St. Mary’s coach) Fred (Sava) always gives us a run for our money.”

Brewster instructed his team during a timeout to focus on defense and to keep the Titans off the boards.

“The guys never stopped fighting and they wanted to win,” Brewster said, adding that junior Travis Ekmark, who had 19 points, “just took over offensively and the defense shut them down the last three minutes.”

Davis returns from N.C., bolsters Osan girls’ lineup

SONGNAM, South Korea — Wearing her old jersey, No. 24, Mina Davis returned to the Osan American Cougars girls basketball team lineup Wednesday and scored 14 points to help Osan down Seoul International 71-20.

It was the first game this year for Davis in a Cougars uniform. An All-Far East player last year as a junior, she spent the first semester this year in North Carolina, where she averaged 15 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the Overhills High Jaguars.

Her father, retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Ernie Davis, now is working at Camp Humphreys. They returned to South Korea on Jan. 7.

“She’s a nice addition” to the team, coach Bruce Barker said, adding that fellow senior point guard Sharon Kroening “feels more comfortable with her in the lineup.”

The Cougars improved to 5-2, but big tests loom: Osan visits Seoul American on Saturday, then hosts Taegu American on Jan. 22; the Warriors routed the Cougars 51-32 on Jan. 7.

“When it comes to playing Seoul American, and Taegu the next time around, we’ll see how they do,” Barker said.

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