Seoul American girls have ingredients for run at Far East AA basketball title
January 20, 2005
Overlooking the Seoul American girls basketball team could be easy, given the boys’ exploits the past couple of years, including two Far East championships — and given that the Falcons girls haven’t won a Far East Class AA Tournament since May 1984.
Still, coach Charlotte Hicks and the Falcons have fashioned a distinguished record over the years. They’ve:
Won outright or shared the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Council crown with Osan American every season since 1992-93.Placed third in every Class AA tournament since 1998.But now the team has a strong core of senior leaders and mentors who bode well for the future, Seoul American is hosting the Class AA tournament for the first time and, Hicks said, she hopes this may be the year the Falcons take the final step.
“You don’t know how nice it would be,” said Hicks, in her 19th season at the Falcons’ helm.
Toward that goal, the team got off to its usual strong start. Through Saturday, Hicks & Co. were 7-0 in KAIAC play, a half-game ahead of this season’s strongest competitor, Taegu American, and two games ahead of Osan.
But the keys to a potential title drive rest in two ingredients not on the stat sheets: chemistry and motivation.
“This is not the most talented group I’ve had but the chemistry seems to click,” Hicks said of a team led by a trio of seniors — scorer Janel Daniels, rebounding specialist Whitney Smith and point guard Amy Bakameyer.
“Janel hates to lose and that’s beginning to rub off on these kids. ... She does other things on the floor besides score. She’s aggressive. She and Amy work really well together,” Hicks said.
Joining them is a solid supporting cast of freshmen, including Jevonna Green, Angie Law and Erika Anglade, younger sister of two-time All-Far East guard Olivia Anglade. Junior Chivonne Floyd and senior Ramie Gibson round out the group.
The elder Anglade’s influence, Hicks said, has rubbed off on Bakameyer. “She has realized some of the qualities that [Anglade] had. Assists, leadership and tenacity on the court, she never gives up. ... She only knows how to play one way — hard.”
Smith is “able to play very well on the defensive end, she boxes out well, she wants to play so badly,” Hicks said. “She wants to be like Janel. She doesn’t have the tools but she’s always out there and works hard.”
And they get along like family, the players insist.
“We have a good connection as a team,” Daniels said. “We’re the best of friends off the court and it shows on the court. ... Chemistry is important. If you have a problem off the court, it may occur on the court. Nothing should interfere on the court.”
As for motivation, the Falcons have enough, Bakameyer says, to stock all of KAIAC.
“I’m proud of the boys’ accomplishments,” she said, but “we’re a strong team, too. We want to be equals. We want to be noticed.”
In the Falcons’ past three Class AA semifinal appearances, “right when we don’t need them, we’ll get a bad call, a critical turnover, a wide-open shot that doesn’t fall,” Bakameyer said. “It’s a motivation for me.”
Hicks admitted once doubting that the Falcons even could equal past years’ records — but their appearance in a military post-level tournament at Osan Air Base last month changed her mind. The Falcons lost three close games and beat Suwon Air Base by 14 points in that tournament.
“I got a different opinion of what they could do, if they work hard enough,” Hicks said.
The Osan appearance also went far toward helping the Falcons overcome a major hurdle Hicks says has affected them in Far East: being a dominating shark in Korea but just another goldfish in the Class AA bowl.
“We’ve been fighting the battle of being ‘Queen of KAIAC,’ everything working here, then when we go to the tournament, we’re the underdog,” Hicks said. “The kids get the big heads, they can’t be beat, then go over there expecting teams to roll over just because they’ve been unbeaten.”
Another major help this year might be playing Class AA in front of home fans, an advantage Hicks has never enjoyed. Always before, she’s also had to play teacher, parent and chaperone, ensuring players meet curfews and crack the books as well as the hoops.
But Hicks refuses to crown the Falcons early.
“No one has verbalized it,”she said, but the kids are thinking about it. ... But we don’t want to get to that point right now. We want to take care of business.
“There are many teams out there that are excellent. Without getting the breaks as you go through the tournament, it may never happen. A couple of times in the past, had we played another team in the semifinals, we’d have been at center court. The timing wasn’t right. This year, it could be there. But I’m not foolish enough to predict that it’s going to.”