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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — It was bad enough that Gerald Ragland was facing his old team on Friday. Aside from those mixed feelings, the Osan Defenders shooting guard was having trouble hitting field goals.

So he made his presence felt at the foul line.

That helped the Defenders hold off Guam’s Anderson Bombers 94-76 to reach Saturday’s men’s final of the Osan Pacificwide Invitational Basketball Tournament.

I have the same respect for them as they have for me,” said Ragland, who played for coach Gerrard Barnes and the Bombers for two years before transferring to Osan last March. “But when we get on the court, it’s different. We have that common goal and that’s to win.”

The Defenders won with the help of Ragland’s foul shooting. He went 10-for-13, hitting five straight in the second quarter.

“My jumpers weren’t falling. My legs were tired,” said the 25-year-old senior airman assigned to Osan’s 51st Communications Squadron, who played college ball at Eastern New Mexico. “I figured I’d better hit my free throws. They’d be the easiest points I would get.”

Ragland came within one victory of his third team title in a Pacificwide invitational tournament. He won one each with the Bombers in 2001 and Osan last spring in the March Madness Invitational at Andersen.

High school assistant takes aim at first title as a player

Last winter and spring, Robin Szilagyi helped the girls basketball and soccer teams at Kubasaki High to Far East Class AA titles as a junior varsity and assistant varsity coach.

On Friday, the Okinawa Queens center moved within one step of her first Pacificwide title as a player as Okinawa defeated host Osan 56-45 to land in Saturday’s championship game.

“We’re excited,” the smiling Szilagyi said after scoring 10 of her 14 points in the first half. “ Who wouldn’t be? You come this far, you work this hard, you want to take it all.”

So what’s better, achieving success as a Kubasaki assistant or as a player?

“This is sweeter,” said the 24-year-old from Midland, Texas, the dependent spouse of a teacher at Zukeran Elementary on Okinawa’s Camp Foster. “It’s a lot more time, a lot more patience and I’m actually out there doing it with a great group of women.”

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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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