Seoul American coach James Davis is hoping his team will be more engaged early in Friday’s rematch than the Falcons were when they hit the road last week to Osan and got blitzed early by a Cougars team.

Osan outscored the Falcons 17-6 in the first quarter – the only quarter the team has lost this season. En route to a 33-point performance, Cougars senior Nicholas White, DODDS Pacific’s leading scorer at 30.5 points per game, kept launching three-pointers and hitting them seemingly at will, Davis said.

Somehow, Seoul American prevailed 66-63. White, who appropriately wears jersey No. 3, had the ball and an open look for a three-pointer as time expired, but it bounced out.

“Kids like him get his,” Davis said by phone Thursday afternoon, just over 24 hours before the Cougars venture to Falcon Gym for the rematch. “We have to play team defense and ensure that nobody else gets theirs.”

“Lucky for us, the shots were falling at home,” Cougars coach James Tolliver said. “Hopefully, they’ll do the same for us at their house.”

The teams tip off about 5 p.m. Friday. Seoul American and Osan’s girls face off at 6:30 p.m.; the Falcons girls have won eight straight after a season-opening overtime loss.

Davis’ Falcons (9-0) can virtually seal the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Blue Division regular-season title with a win or a loss by two points or less. A win by four points or more for Osan (6-1) would tighten the race considerably, with Seoul Foreign lurking just behind at 7-2.

“Little things,” Tolliver said, such as better free-throw shooting and holding down turnovers, could help the Cougars.

“If we do that, we’ll have a chance to be in it,” he said, noting that the Falcons hold a size advantage over Osan. “They’re bigger than us, but the way we move the ball, we can adjust with our speed and quickness. We have to play as big as we can, play defense and box out.”

Key to the Falcons’ chances, Davis said, is bettering their beginning last Friday. “We started slow, and to their credit, they had the home crowd, their boys were into it,” he said. “If our crowd gets into it, if we win the first quarter, that will be the difference.”

There’s every chance the teams could meet again in the KAIAC Blue tournament, which the Falcons host Feb. 6-7.

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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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