DODEA teams in South Korea set for winter debuts
Stars and Stripes November 16, 2023
For a quick look at each team, click here.
CAMP WALKER, South Korea – It wasn’t quite the finish that Kathryn Brashears and Daegu’s girls basketball team wanted.
After going 10-0 in the Korea regular season, the Warriors, led by center Jasmine Harvey and guard Zoe Stegall, made the final four of the Far East Division II tournament, only to fall in both the semifinals and third-place games.
“We have talked about working hard this season to be the best team we can be,” said Brashears, in her third season at the Warriors’ helm, of the team’s hopes to take the next step up the Far East ladder.
Harvey, a senior and the tallest girls player in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference, returns at center. Her sister Trinity, a sophomore, is also back, along with senior guard Jazmirra McClendon, who returns after a year away from Daegu.
“She is going to be a strong player this year,” Brashears said. “I can’t wait to see what she does.”
Daegu’s girls and boys teams last won the D-II titles in the same season, 2013-14, 10 years ago.
The Warriors, along with Osan will again play in KAIAC’s second-tier Red Division, while Humphreys’ boys and girls will play in the Blue Division. The regular season begins this weekend, with Humphreys playing in the KAIAC Korea Classic and the Cougars and Warriors facing each other on Saturday at Osan.
They’ll also play in the league’s postseason tournaments Jan. 26-27; they missed those a season ago, when the KAIAC tournaments were scheduled after the DODEA-Pacific Far East tournaments.
Unquestionably, the Cougars should be in great condition, if nothing else, as demonstrated by all the running they do in practice.
Osan, under new coaches Euroya Lauzon and Anderson Bryant Jr., return a solid core of seniors Ashley Kim, Tatiana Lunn and Jonessa Jones along with juniors Abigail Elliott and Hanna Rutland.
“We have athletes,” Bryant said. “They seem to have an eagerness to learn. They’re going to be in shape.”
Randy Sangalli takes over as the Blackhawks girls coach; Humphreys returns guards Anayah Reyes and Jasmine Viner, while freshman Macy McCullough, a cross country runner, will line up at forward.
There’s not much height, so the Blackhawks “will rely on quickness,” Sangalli said.
Having assisted the Blackhawks boys team since the school opened 11 years ago, Ashley Gooch steps in as the new head coach.
The Blackhawks will be younger than they’ve been in awhile, and don’t have much height, but they’ll rely on a sophomore triad of returner Elijah Kidd and newcomers Andrew Thompson and Cason Vaughn. “We’re expecting big things from him,” Gooch said.
“We have some talented underclassmen,” she said. “What we lack in experience and height, we make up for in talent and versatility.”
Sebastian Tavarez assumes the Cougars helm. They were hurt by transfers and graduations, but are expecting good things from senior Aaron Patterson, sophomore R.J. Jones and junior Matthew Siebert, among others.
“We have a couple of newcomers who have experience who should help,” Tavarez said. “Quickness and fundamentals. That’s what we’re working on.”
Deon Snider takes over for the Warriors boys, who might have the best balance among the DODEA-Korea teams.
Nico Sowu, a senior, and his freshman brother Maurice should man the middle. Senior Adrian Tagalog returns at point and senior Beckam Clites and junior Andrew Burke also return.
Snider feels the Warriors have the makings of a solid team. “I see some good things. Absolutely, I see potential here,” he said.
The annual difficulty of finding enough wrestlers to fill a lineup was made more so this year, Humphreys coach Ben Pak said, by the changing of weight classes as put out by DODEA-Pacific’s athletics manual and international freestyle wrestling’s governing body.
“I’ve had kids who weigh 95, 100, they don’t want to come out knowing that the minimum weight is 107,” Pak said.
The new weight divisions are 107, 114, 121, 127, 133, 139, 145, 152, 160, 172, 189, 215 and 285, according to DODEA-Pacific’s region supplement to United World Wrestling’s manual, a copy of which was obtained by Stripes.
“I’m not a fan of it,” Pak said. “We’ll adjust, of course. You have to find ways and prepare your team to compete.”
Still, the Blackhawks do have some depth, led by senior Steve Gonzales, who finished second at 158 last year in Far East. “Hopefully, I’ll have some surprises,” Pak said.
Osan and Daegu have fielded smaller lineups than the Blackhawks. The Warriors welcome Zachary Colflesh as their new coach. Michael Paul is back at Osan’s coach; as of the first week of practice, he had one high school-aged wrestler, sophomore Martin Heffele.
The season opens Dec. 2 with all four KAIAC wrestling schools, including Seoul Foreign, at Daejeon Physical Education High School.