King keeps its WJAA crown with blowout victory
By STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 19, 2019
KOBE, Japan – New coach, same result.
For the fifth time in six years, including the last three in a row, E.J. King’s boys basketball team is taking home the championship of the Western Japan Athletic Association tournament.
This time around, it’s Travis Elliott, who took the Cobras’ reins this season after Laird Small and Robert Sipplin helmed the team to the title the last two years.
“They work very hard to be where they’re at right now,” said Elliott, who played for WJAA member Matthew C. Perry in 2001 and 2002 and is now coaching the Samurai’s arch-rival Cobras. “It feels really good. I entered into an already strong program with a great group of guys.”
One, Dyson Robinson, a senior, came within four steals of a triple-double in the final, won by the Cobras 74-32 over St. Maur. Robinson had 23 points, 11 rebounds and six steals.
The Cobras outscored the Cougars 43-11 in the first half.
Robinson accrued those totals in just 2½ quarters; most of the starters went only that deep into the game. King played the two-day WJAA tournament without starter L.J. Scarver, the team’s second-leading scorer.
“We definitely have a strong (starting) five,” Elliott said. “(But) those who were looking for more playing time got (a chance) to show what they could do, and they did. It increased our depth significantly. But the bottom of the bench works hard and always battles the top; that contributes to our success.”
Daegu girls, Humphreys boys lock up top seeds
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea – While Dai’Ja Turner remained on her tear since the new year, fellow sophomore Bethani Newbold found her scoring touch and helped the Warriors – winless two seasons ago – clinch the Korea Blue Division regular-season title.
Newbold erupted for a career-high 39 points, 22 in the second half, and Turner had 12 of her 16 points in the second half as the Warriors won 73-56 on the road at Humphreys to improve to 10-0.
“Bethani is an exceptional player and leader,” coach Jonathan Van said, noting that Newbold and Turner continued a pattern of playing their best ball in the second half.
“Our motto is ‘finish the fight’ and we believe and understand what it takes to do just that. We can’t win games in the first half, so we usually turn it up a notch in the second half.”
The Blackhawks were eliminated from regular-season title consideration with their third loss of the season. Likewise, on Friday, the only team that could catch the Warriors, Seoul Foreign, suffered its third loss at Daegu, 51-33.
Humphreys’ boys, meanwhile, made it four straight times either sharing or earning the regular-season title outright, pounding the Warriors 86-49 on Saturday after routing Osan 79-50 on Friday. The Blackhawks improved to 11-0.
The Warriors girls get the top seed in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference Cup Tournament Feb. 1-2 at Humphreys. Likewise, the Blackhawks earned the top seed in the KAIAC boys Cup Tournament at Yongsan.
St. Mary’s matmen tune up for “Beast”
TOKYO – If there was any hope that St. Mary’s wrestling team was in rebuilding mode, the Titans disproved that resoundingly by running away with Saturday’s Christian Academy Japan Invitational Tournament title.
The Titans placed 18 of their 21 wrestlers in the top three of their respective weights, with six taking first place, and scoring 120 team points, well in front of defending Far East tournament Division I champion Nile C. Kinnick (62).
It was the teams’ final tune-up for next weekend’s Kinnick Invitational “Beast of the Far East” tournament, which prepares most participants for the upcoming Far East tournament next month, also at Kinnick.
Despite the strong finish, coach Shu Yabui says his Titans must “be more aggressive and not passive. Too often, we are reacting to our opponents. We have to be on the attack constantly.”
Roberts, Red Devils get best of Mustangs
TOKYO – Kaine Roberts scored 29 points and Rashad Rapada added 19 as Kinnick, the reigning Far East Division I Tournament champion, outlasted American School In Japan, last year’s Far East combined tournament champ, 70-62 in a rematch of those games on Saturday.
Chris Sasanuma and Tyler Schiff each had 14 points for the Mustangs, who lost for only the second time this season against 10 wins. The Red Devils improved to 8-1.
The two teams might square off again in the 3rd ASIJ Kanto Classic next Thursday through Saturday at Mustang Valley.
Nile C. Kinnick's Kaine Roberts shoots and plows into American School In Japan's Chris Sasanuma during Saturday's rematch of last year's Far East Division I and combined tournament finals. The defending D-I champion Red Devils edged the defending combined champion Mustangs 70-62.
EMMANESTA STOVALL/SPECIAL TO STRIPES