Pacific H.S. basketball: Panthers send Seward out a winner in New Year Classic
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Derick Seward leaves Yokota Air Base early next month. His Yokota Panthers teammates assured him of an early Christmas and PCS present on Sunday.
The sophomore guard scored 10 points and fellow sophomore Keron Brown had 15 points and seven rebounds as Yokota rallied past American School In Japan 46-38 for its first New Year Classic boys high school basketball tournament title.
"It feels good," said Seward, who heads to Beale Air Force Base, Calif., in early January. "I’m going to miss all these guys. These are the same guys I play football with. To win the New Year Classic is great. I’m glad to go out of here with a win."
Perhaps better known for his football exploits — he had a Pacific-leading 1,302 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Panthers — Seward possessed a work ethic that translated to other sports, his coach and teammates said.
"He’s one of the hardest-working kids who’s come through Yokota," coach Paul Ettl said, adding that football coach Tim Pujol has said with his work ethic, "He’s a Division I football prospect."
"We’re going to miss him," Ettl added. "This was a perfect way for him to go out."
Junior backcourt and football teammate DeEric Harvin said Seward is "like a little brother to me these last three or four years. It’s kind of hard to see him leave. He’s an impact player in any sport he plays."
Early in Sunday’s championship, it was ASIJ providing the impact plays, forcing the Panthers into a half-court game, dictating the pace and creating openings for backdoor layups by spreading the perimeter with three-point shots.
Senior Seaun Eddy, the game’s leading scorer with 18 points, gave the Mustangs their biggest lead at 17-11 five minutes before halftime.
Then, the Panthers turned the tables by going on a 10-0 run, seizing the lead for keeps at 19-17 with three minutes left in the second quarter on Seward’s fast-break layup.
Seward gave Yokota its biggest lead at 38-25 with 5:55 left in the game.
The game capped a strenuous two-day New Year Classic in which the Panthers played seven games and ASIJ nine in 36 hours.
"Not enough depth. Not enough gas," Mustangs coach Aaron Rogers said. "We’re young, we’re learning. We made mistakes. We had the momentum and lost it. [But] I’m proud of what they did."
"These last two days have been a lot of work for the kids," Ettl said. "We lasted out the marathon."