Cobras slither past Trojans to break title drought
Stars and Stripes January 31, 2024
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – For years, decades even, E.J. King’s girls basketball teams always seemed to come up short in Far East Division II Tournaments.
Maliwan Schinker, Moa Best and Miu Best ended the Cobras’ 27-year title drought on Wednesday. Moa Best hit a foul shot with 10 seconds left and King held off Zama for a 29-28 victory at Yokota High School.
“That clutch one. It only takes one and she did it,” the Bests’ father and Cobras coach McKinzy Best said of Moa’s free throw. “The team rallied around each other and played their hearts out.” They had good reason. In addition to losing last year’s final to Christian Academy Japan, many of the players on the Cobras also came in second to Yokota in four sets in the Far East D-II volleyball final in October – something Schinker said she remembers well.
“It was definitely a big moment for all of us after coming up short these past two years,” said Schinker, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“All the girls who played volleyball felt relieved after winning because we didn’t get the outcome we wanted during volleyball season. It felt great to win with my team and to come out as champions and it was an amazing way to end off my senior basketball season.”
The Cobras finished their season 22-0, winners of both their fourth Far East D-II title and the Western Japan Athletic Association tournament earlier this month. “To go unbeaten and win the championship; that’s a tribute to how hard the kids worked,” McKinzy Best said.
Wednesday’s final was as close a call as they had all season.
“Zama’s a great team,” the elder Best said. “They gave us all we could handle and then some. But we persevered. We battled back and forth. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The Trojans, seeking their first D-II title since 2019, finished 12-7, and longtime Zama coach and athletics director Veronica Jones said: “I couldn’t have been more proud if we had won the banner. They’re probably the best team I ever coached.” Moa Best finished with 13 points and Miu 10. For Zama, Deborah McClendon had 11 points and Lindsey So 10.