Panthers, Lady Eagles gaining ground in JBL
The Robert D. Edgren girls and Yokota boys basketball teams are peaking at the right time.
Both are coming off sweeps of weekend Japan League series. The Lady Eagles downed Yokota and E.J. King twice each at Misawa Air Base, and the Panthers topped Nile C. Kinnick, E.J. King and host Matthew C. Perry once each at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station.
“Hard to believe,” said Yokota boys coach Paul Ettl, whose club is on an 11-game winning streak and has lost just twice since December. They improved to 15-8 overall and 10-5 in the JBL to move into second place, 3½ games behind Edgren (15-3).
The Panthers beat Kinnick 62-59 and outlasted E.J. King 62-58 on Saturday, hours after downing Perry 61-47 on Friday.
The Lady Eagles (11-11, 11-7) also moved into second place behind Kinnick (8-0) by outplaying Yokota 82-58 and E.J. King 60-25 on Saturday. They began the weekend by topping Yokota 70-46 and E.J. King 71-30.
The timing couldn’t be any better for either school, with the Class AA Far East tournaments a week away. The boys’ tournament will be held in Seoul; the girls’ takes place on Okinawa.
“We’ve been trying so hard to focus on getting the kids to gel and develop confidence,” Edgren coach Sarah Richardson said.
First-year starters Stephanie Patrick, Brandi Calhoun and Krystine Horsley have steadily improved, taking pressure off junior post player Liz Lally.
“Now Liz has some help,” Richardson said, adding that Janae Burt, who has been missing from Edgren’s frontcourt since being sidelined by injury, may return in time for Far East.
Ettl, meanwhile, can’t pinpoint what triggered Yokota’s turnaround from the season’s first month, when it lost six games.
“They’ve gotten used to playing with one another. All the hard work has paid off,” Ettl said. “We still have work to do. But it’s nice to win.”
Senior Corie White, a fixture in the paint who averaged 18.7 points and 10.7 rebounds over the weekend, has benefited from Clarence Willis’ work inside, the perimeter play of Cameron Cooper, and the steady presence of point guard Shawn Novak.