DODEA teams fall short of Kanto Classic titles
Stars and Stripes January 21, 2023
TOKYO – While DODEA teams did not come away with the boys or girls titles, they did gain valuable preparation Saturday for the upcoming Far East basketball tournaments.
Kadena’s girls came closest to a title in the 5th American School In Japan Kanto Classic, falling 38-33 in the championship against St. Paul Christian of Guam – the second loss for the Panthers in the last two Kanto Classic girls finals. Nile C. Kinnick and E.J. King followed in third and fourth place.
On the boys side, Yokota, which entered the tournament unbeaten, lost its last two games on Saturday to finish fourth, behind champion St. Mary’s and second- and third-place finishers Okkodo and 2020 champion Father Duenas Memorial of Guam.
“This is always good preparation for the big dance,” Red Devils girls coach and Kinnick athletics director Joey White said. “Preparation is key. We didn’t make it to the championship because we didn’t execute. But I’m proud of the girls.”
KaMiyah Dabner scored 17 points and All-Tournament forward Amyka Jones added 12 for the Red Devils, who led by as many as 14 before hanging on at the end.
“The ladies were challenged and they stepped up to the challenge,” Cobras coach McKinzy Best said. Moa Best led King with 14 points and Maliwan Schinker tossed in 12. “We were down and we came back within six. I’m happy.”
In the girls final, Kadena’s and St. Paul’s girls engaged in a slow-tempo, defensive struggle. The lead changed hands six times and the game was tied four times before the Warriors’ Sazzanei Quintanilla stepped to the fore late in the fourth quarter.
The freshman guard hit two clutch foul shots, then sank a three-point goal with just under a minute left to give the Warriors enough breathing room at the end.
“I was just playing my game, trying to tune out the crowd,” Quintanilla said. “I’m really happy for the win.”
She finished with a game-high 12 points, while Destiny Richardson led the Panthers with 11.
To reach Saturday’s final, teams had to play quarterfinals and semifinals all in one day.
Yokota’s boys faced uphill battles in all three games, rallying from down four points by scoring the final 10 in a 56-50 quarterfinal win over Kinnick.
But in the semifinal, the Panthers lost 75-62 to Father Duenas and may have lost more than that – senior forward Zemon Davis, who led the Panthers with 23 points, went down with a knee injury in the fourth period. He tried to return, but collapsed again in the closing seconds.
Marcus Woods had 23 points in a losing cause as the Panthers fell 66-65 to Okkodo in the third-place game.
The boys title went to St. Mary’s, which lost to Yokota in the finals of the first Kanto Classic in 2017. Most Valuable Player Roy Igwe led the Titans with 21 points in a 59-51 win that dethroned the Friars.
“It feels great,” Titans coach Kris Thiesen said.