Offense was conspicuously absent in the first half for the Kadena Panthers girls at home against the Kubasaki Dragons in Saturday’s Okinawa Activities Council showdown. Kadena had just 11 points and 16 turnovers to show for the first 16 minutes, which Kubasaki led 21-11.
So Kadena coach Ken Hudson unleashed a 1-2-2 zone press on Kubasaki, which turned the tide of the contest. The Panthers outscored the Dragons 23-7 in the third quarter and cruised to a 52-37 triumph.
“We have three presses we can run,” Hudson said. “Definitely, putting on the pressure caused them to turn the ball over and that brought us back into the game. My team doesn’t feel as if it will get beat. It doesn’t matter how many points we fall behind. We trust each other.”
Yokota girls, Kinnick boys continue hot starts
Where the leading basketball powers in Japan are concerned, the number 13 — as in victories to start the season — plus new additions to already strong lineups, taken with a dash of chemistry, have proven to be common denominators.
Nile C. Kinnick’s boys and Yokota’s girls continued their strong starts over the weekend, the Red Devils winning both their games and the Panthers capturing three games in a 19-hour span to improve to 13-0.
"They've just jelled really well and they're playing together," said Yokota athletics director Bonnie Seeley of the Panthers girls.
Coach Ric Cabral welcomed senior transfer Andrevia Thomas and promising freshmen Kiki Howell and Charlotte Taylor to a roster featuring strong veterans Cari Bruschuk, Darlene Seeley, Victoria Sanders and China Roach.
The Panthers kept up their winning ways by downing Seisen International 49-40 on Friday, then sweeping a Japan League twin bill from Robert D. Edgren 60-36 and 67-52.
One of the team's main strengths, athletics director Seeley said, is defense, coupled with an ability to pick each other up. If one player has a down game, others are there to pick up the slack. And the fact that they've won 13 straight to open the season has led to a sense of urgency, rather than complacency.
"There's no cockiness," Seeley said. "They start each game with a concern that they're doing well and they're trying to maintain that record. They're getting out there with a job to do. To get out there and watch them is just fantastic."
Likewise, the Red Devils have their share of star players, but overall team balance and executing roles have fueled their early run, coach Nathan Brewster said.
"We've got good chemistry going," Brewster said.
Aside from returning junior scorer Travis Ekmark and senior post Leonard Lynce, Brewster is pleased with the effort of senior transfer Paul Ergus and junior holdover guard David McDermott.
"David's been playing well and has started contributing. He's been an offensive threat," Brewster said. "Everybody's playing a role. Everybody knows their roles, they're filling their roles and are comfortable with their roles."
Coach: Edgren, Yokota wrestling teams will make noise at Far East
Though Saturday's Robert D. Edgren Invitational Tournament practically mirrored the results of the E.J. King Invitational the previous week, Zama American coach Ian Harlow says the landscape could change radically come next month's Far East Wrestling Tournament at Yokota High School.
Specifically, Harlow points to Robert D. Edgren, with Louie Lee and Vincent Doinoff, and Yokota, featuring Jim Scott and Patrick Pamintuan, who might do some damage at Far East.
"They'll surprise some people," Harlow said, adding that Edgren "wrestles some good hard matches. They have a lot of fight in them. Yokota's a good young team. They're going to be a scary team in a couple of years."
Nile C. Kinnick won its second in-season tournament title in as many weeks, followed by Zama, Yokota, Edgren and E.J. King.