CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – It would be understandable if Kristy Robinson feels conflicted during this weekend’s Martin Luther King Invitational Basketball Tournament.
While she’s an assistant coach for the Kadena High School girls team, she also plays point guard for the Lady Warriors – who face each other first thing Sunday morning when the double-elimination playoffs start.
“It is interesting,” said Robinson, 36, an Air Force staff sergeant from Fort Walton Beach, Fla., assigned to Kadena Air Base. She’s played in several MLK tournaments, winning three, and has assisted the Panthers girls in her five-plus years on island.
While hoping her Warriors can go deep toward their first title in this tournament, Robinson is also hopeful that her Panthers can take some things away from the tournament.
“The physicalness, getting more used to contact, going up strong with the ball and the basketball knowledge (the women players) have, getting in their faces and going after it,” Robinson said.
She could have been tempted, Robinson said, to go easy on Kadena – who beat the Warriors 33-29 in pool play on Friday – but both she and the Panthers said they want her to go all out.
“I’m going to get after it,” Robinson said. “I wouldn’t make them better if I didn’t play hard. So I’m not going to let up.”
The possibility of facing their assistant coach in Monday’s title game wasn’t lost on the Panthers players, some of whom sounded hopeful about such an encounter.
“I would like it,” senior guard Jasmine Rhodes said. “Gives me a chance to show her I’ve been doing what she’s been telling me. It would be an honor to play against my assistant coach.”
Kadena ended up sweeping three pool-play games and earned the top seed entering the women’s playoffs, which begin at 9 a.m. Sunday with the Panthers squaring off with the Warriors.
Kadena’s and Kubasaki’s boys captured the second seeds out of their respective pools.
“We came here to play good ball and live with the results,” Panthers boys coach Gerald Johnson said. “There’s a lot we can gain. … Normally, this is where our season begins to peak. I can see a surge in confidence with the success against the adult teams.”
“They’re pretty good,” said All-Marine guard Kenny Blackwell of the Warriors of Camp Kinser. “It’s good that they get out to these tournaments and play higher-level competition than they’re used to. They’re doing well representing their schools. It can only help them.”
Meanwhile, on the wrestling mats in Tokyo, Nile C. Kinnick completed a 12-0 dual-meet season and captured the Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools regular-season title. “It’s really cool,” Red Devils coach Gary Wilson said.
The Red Devils edged St. Mary’s, their closest opponent in the standings, 36-29 to cap their campaign; the Titans finished 10-2. Kinnick also downed American School In Japan 50-12 and Christian Academy Japan 56-6.
Seoul American returned to full strength after last weekend’s Kinnick Invitational “Beast of the Far East” tournament saw some of the Falcons there and others in a quad meet at Humphreys.
The Falcons won two dual meets to stay unbeaten in such competition, but got a bit of a scare from Osan, needing two late wins by Brandon Rothe at 180 and Jack Barnes at 215 to escape 36-22.
Seoul American’s basketball teams stayed on the winning track, the boys winning 74-41 and the girls 36-30 at Humphreys. The Falcons boys are unbeaten at 9-0 while the girls have won eight straight since a season-opening defeat.