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Yokota's Eian Flowers goes up to shoot against teammate Braden Raybon.

Yokota's Eian Flowers goes up to shoot against teammate Braden Raybon. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Check out team capsules for girls basketball, boys basketball and wrestling.

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan – Senior night for Yokota’s boys basketball team promises to be one of the longest in Panthers history.

No fewer than nine seniors dot the Panthers’ lineup, headlined by point guard Dylan Tomas and power forward Zemon Davis, in what could potentially be Yokota’s best chance at a Far East Division II title in seven seasons.

“It will come down to injuries and illness,” Panthers coach Dan Galvin said. “If we can keep everybody healthy and out of sick bay, we have a chance to contend.”

That senior night, scheduled for Jan. 17 against St. Mary’s International, precedes by two days the start of the postseason: The American School In Japan’s Kanto Classic Jan. 19-21 and the Far East D-II tournament, scheduled to be hosted by Yokota Jan. 30-Feb. 1.

Assuming Far Easts are a go – they’re on DODEA-Pacific’s schedule for now – wrestling is slated for Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at Nile C. Kinnick. Boys Division I basketball is Jan. 30-31 at Kadena and girls Jan. 30-31 at Humphreys, and girls D-II is Jan. 30-Feb. 1 at Zama.

While Yokota’s boys don’t have much height, they have speed and quickness and, most coaches agree, the experience factor with so many seniors. And Davis can be a handful inside, Galvin said.

“Zemon is a monster,” he said. “He’s tough.”

Junior Kierstyn Aumua is one of a handful on Zama's girls basketball team who also played volleyball.

Junior Kierstyn Aumua is one of a handful on Zama's girls basketball team who also played volleyball. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Freshman Kekua "Rhino" Aumua adds some size inside to a Zama boys basketball team short on height and guard heavy.

Freshman Kekua "Rhino" Aumua adds some size inside to a Zama boys basketball team short on height and guard heavy. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Zama girls basketball team's senior Kaitlyn McAbee and junior Deborah McClendon work on boxing out.

Zama girls basketball team's senior Kaitlyn McAbee and junior Deborah McClendon work on boxing out. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Yokota girls basketball returning sophomore Charlotte Rhyne looks for room against newcomer Beverly Gardner, a sophomore who transferred from Colorado Springs.

Yokota girls basketball returning sophomore Charlotte Rhyne looks for room against newcomer Beverly Gardner, a sophomore who transferred from Colorado Springs. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Matthew C. Perry's boys basketball backcourt is a mix of youth and experience, with freshman Jahiion Francois, left, and senior Eddie Pacleb.

Matthew C. Perry's boys basketball backcourt is a mix of youth and experience, with freshman Jahiion Francois, left, and senior Eddie Pacleb. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

E.J. King senior Cameron Reinhart has grown to 6 feet, 4 inches and can play pretty much any position on the floor.

E.J. King senior Cameron Reinhart has grown to 6 feet, 4 inches and can play pretty much any position on the floor. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Yokota's Charlotte Rhyne spent part of last summer at a PGC Camp; Maliyah Magat, left, is one of two Magat siblings playing basketball for Robert D. Edgren.

Yokota's Charlotte Rhyne spent part of last summer at a PGC Camp; Maliyah Magat, left, is one of two Magat siblings playing basketball for Robert D. Edgren. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Matthew C. Perry junior Billy Hill takes it to the basket against junior teammate Joshua Norris.

Matthew C. Perry junior Billy Hill takes it to the basket against junior teammate Joshua Norris. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Sophomore Jasmine Pho is one of three returning guards to Nile C. Kinnick's girls basketball lineup.

Sophomore Jasmine Pho is one of three returning guards to Nile C. Kinnick's girls basketball lineup. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Sophomore Jarius Brown is one of three players returning to Zama boys basketball varsity team.

Sophomore Jarius Brown is one of three players returning to Zama boys basketball varsity team. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Senior Mikaila Joi Miranda is one of three returning guards to Nile C. Kinnick's girls basketball lineup.

Senior Mikaila Joi Miranda is one of three returning guards to Nile C. Kinnick's girls basketball lineup. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Robert D. Edgren sophomore Micah Magat does a conditiioning drill with the jump rope.

Robert D. Edgren sophomore Micah Magat does a conditiioning drill with the jump rope. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Robert D. Edgren senior Gabe Simmons drives to the basket against sophomore Micah Magat.

Robert D. Edgren senior Gabe Simmons drives to the basket against sophomore Micah Magat. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Senna Solberg and Dylan Tomas are two of nine seniors on Yokota's boys basketball team.

Senna Solberg and Dylan Tomas are two of nine seniors on Yokota's boys basketball team. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Yokota senior Zemon Davis dribbles against senior teammate Marcus Woods under coach Dan Galvin's watchful eye. The two players are among nine seniors on the Panthers boys basketball team.

Yokota senior Zemon Davis dribbles against senior teammate Marcus Woods under coach Dan Galvin's watchful eye. The two players are among nine seniors on the Panthers boys basketball team. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Nile C. Kinnick's boys basketball team hopes to get good production from junior guard Xavier Wright, left, and junior forward Austin Davenport.

Nile C. Kinnick's boys basketball team hopes to get good production from junior guard Xavier Wright, left, and junior forward Austin Davenport. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Basketball

Yokota’s girls also don’t have much height, but one of their guards, Charlotte Rhyne, attended a PGC Camp in the States and said it helped boost her confidence. “I learned a lot of different ways to dribble, to be more confident and not compare myself to others,” she said.

One senior, Alicia Tanoue, has Yokota bloodlines: her father, Mark, graduated Yokota in 1988 and her uncle Paul in 1985, and the latter was taught by one of Alicia’s current teachers, former Panthers coach John Thek. “It’s amazing how my teacher taught my uncle,” Alicia said.

Siblings can be found in other locales. Zama junior Kierstyn Aumua has some court company in her freshman brother, Kekua, called “Rhino” by his teammates. Their dinner conversations invariably turn to basketball.

“We’re talking about how our practices went, offering each other advice, since we’re still kind of new to basketball, what we learned at practice and passing it on to each other,” Kierstyn said.

Neither Trojans team possesses great height, although sophomore Jarius Brown, one of three boys returners, “has grown a couple of inches” over the summer, new Trojans boys coach Shawen Smith said.

Another brother-sister combo can be found at Robert D. Edgren, where senior Maliyah Magat plays point guard for the Eagles girls and her sophomore brother Micah for the boys. The two talk over supper about types of plays and defenses and how to break them, Micah said.

“We help each other, we build upon each other,” he said. “It’s a sibling bond.”

“We see each other often on the court, so it makes it easier for us to talk about what we need to improve on,” Maliyah said.

Edgren’s boys and girls teams are collections of mostly guards, save for girls sophomore 5-foot-10 center Kaitlyn Willets and boys senior 6-foot-7 center O’moj Reeves.

Guards are key to E.J. King’s fortunes, both on the girls side, where sophomore twins Miu and Moa Best – coach McKinzy Best’s daughters – man the backcourt, while 6-4 senior Cameron Reinhart can play guard or most anywhere because of his height.

“The only player who can stop Cam is Cam,” Perry boys coach Daniel Burns said.

The Samurai boys must figure out how to replace departed big man Shion Fleming, but Burns says the team might have better guard play than they did last season. “We’re a young team, but we’ll be competitive,” he said. “We’ll be OK.”

Perry’s girls team is coming off a winless 2021-22, but both players and new coach Joshua Henry say they’re optimistic.

“We have more potential as we have most of the returners and more experience,” senior guard Aiya Versoza said. “We have a lot of people that work outside of practice to help improve. We like to work with each other to better ourselves.”

The lone Division I program in Japan, Nile C. Kinnick, has a strong returning girls core in seniors Amyka Jones and Mikaila Joi Miranda and sophomore Jasmine Pho. Freshman Kamiyah Dabler shows some potential.

“With Mikaila, Amyka and Jasmine, you can build any kind of team around them,” Red Devils coach and athletics director Joey White said.

Kinnick’s boys will look to junior guard Xavier Wright and junior forward Austin Davenport for much of their production. “He worked hard during the offseason,” coach Robert Stovall said of Davenport. Senior Luke Oriem returns at guard; new sophomore forward Nick Whyte shows potential.

Senior 148-pounder Tate Rannow is one of a small handful of returners to a young Yokota wrestling team.

Senior 148-pounder Tate Rannow is one of a small handful of returners to a young Yokota wrestling team. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Nick Sales, a 2022 Yokota graduate and former DODEA-Japan heavyweight champion, is now an assistant coach on Yokota wrestling head coach Theo Kuntz's staff.

Nick Sales, a 2022 Yokota graduate and former DODEA-Japan heavyweight champion, is now an assistant coach on Yokota wrestling head coach Theo Kuntz's staff. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Senior heavies Maddix Larue and Kirby Kendrick are expected to carry part of the load for a growing Matthew C. Perry wrestling team.

Senior heavies Maddix Larue and Kirby Kendrick are expected to carry part of the load for a growing Matthew C. Perry wrestling team. (Dave Ornauer/Stars and Stripes)

Freshman Aaron Lopez and sophomore Sebastian Campbell mix it up in Matthew C. Perry's wrestling room.

Freshman Aaron Lopez and sophomore Sebastian Campbell mix it up in Matthew C. Perry's wrestling room. (Raven Rayos/Special to Stripes)

Wrestling

It appears to be a rebuilding year across the board for most DODEA-Japan mat programs, though Perry and King are showing promise and greater numbers than in the past.

“We have a lot of wrestlers that show a lot of potential that could do good,” Samurai sophomore Greg Campbell said. He and his twin brother Sebastian won DODEA-Japan tournament titles last year. “We have a strong base that we could build off of.”

King coaches Paul Doughtery and Tim Zimmerman say they have high expectations for the threesome of Arona Headley, Joseph McGrath and Ashton Wall.

Edgren has no seniors, but does have some experience in sophomores Sebastian Sanchez, Nikolas Hawkins and Sidney Cogswell. A bit of good news: the Eagles will wrestle under new lighting and on new mats in the Edgren Middle School Gym.

Yokota was hit hard by graduation, leaving the Panthers with “a lot of fresh faces,” coach Theo Kuntz said. “But they’re hungry, they want it, they’re working hard. Senior Tate Rannow returns at 148.

Stan Hovell takes over Kinnick’s program from 11-year coach Gary Wilson. Junior Wendell Harrison (158) is one of four returners. Assisting Kinnick is former All-Navy wrestler Stephen Zakarauskas.

Zama’s squad is thin and has no seniors, but coach Guy Snyder says returning sophomore Destin Malone and stateside transfer Larry Chiu each show potential. Helping out are assistants Chris Waite and Glenn Simpkins, whom Snyder calls “a blessing to have in the room.”

Matthew C. Perry student journalist Raven Rayos contributed to this report.

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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