They’ve played each other many times in Far East Division II tournaments, but not before Friday at Camp Walker had Daegu’s and E.J. King’s basketball teams faced each other in the regular season.
Though Friday’s games resulted in one-sided verdicts for the host Warriors, Phillip Loyd, who coaches both Daegu’s boys and girls teams, said each side was happy for the chance to play teams they don’t normally see.
“It felt great,” Loyd said after Daegu’s girls beat E.J. King 63-33 and the Warriors boys downed the Cobras 56-28 at Kelly Field House.
It was a historic first regular-season meeting between the schools, something Daegu athletics director says that he and his E.J. King counterpart, Charles Strobino – a former Daegu educator – have been working on for two years.
“Anywhere we go, we have to fly,” Cobras boys assistant coach Laird Small said of how they get to almost all of their regular-season games against DODDS Japan teams except Matthew C. Perry.
Rather than fly the team to Tokyo or Misawa at high prices, the two schools figured they could save as much as 40 percent by having the Cobras fly to Pusan and bus to Daegu. The Cobras played their Friday games and face Taejon Christian International’s teams on Saturday.
The other byproduct of the inter-district games was to gauge where each stood in the chase for Far East tournament titles next month, boys at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, and girls at Camp Carroll, South Korea.
“This is where you get a sense of where you are and how competitive you will be at Far East,” Loyd said. “It was a great experience.”
E.J. King’s wrestling team accompanied the basketball squads and will battle DODDS Korea’s four wrestling schools Saturday at Camp George. This was the first weekend following the Christmas break with most of the Pacific’s sports teams back in action. Guam’s third-quarter season begins next week.
Friday was a great night to be a Panther in Japan and Okinawa.
Kadena’s girls regained the lead in their four-game season series with Kubasaki, staving off a second-half rally for a 40-37 win. Kadena cut Kubasaki’s boys series lead to 2-1, edging the Dragons 45-44.
The boys game was a foulfest: 30 fouls were called on the Panthers and 20 on the Dragons. “We kept our cool” despite the fouls, Kadena coach Gerald Johnson said. “The intensity at the end of the game was quite high, but we kept our composure. We finally pulled it off.”
In the girls game, Kadena led 22-12 at halftime and Sydney Johnson, Kubasaki’s senior guard hampered by a cold, played just two minutes in the first half. She came off the bench to score nine of her 14 points in the third quarter and the Dragons very nearly pulled it out.
“At the end, we made a couple of stops and converted what we needed to convert,” Kadena coach Willie Ware said, adding that the game once more proved Kubasaki was no longer an also-ran. “If you don’t bring your A game against them, they’ll beat you.”
Panthers also enjoyed success at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni. Freshman Paige Gall’s two foul shots with five seconds left sealed Yokota’s girls’ 27-24 win over Matthew C. Perry. Calvin Riley had 17 points and 12 boards as Yokota’s boys prevailed 68-51 over the Samurai.
In Tokyo, Andrew Jones scorched the nets for seven three-point goals, finishing with 44 points, the region’s highest single-game total this season, as St. Mary’s International pounded Nile C. Kinnick 74-47.