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Seoul American senior center Margaret Nurse embraces coach Charlotte Hicks after Saturday’s Far East Class AA championship game at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea.
Seoul American senior center Margaret Nurse embraces coach Charlotte Hicks after Saturday’s Far East Class AA championship game at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)
Seoul American senior center Margaret Nurse embraces coach Charlotte Hicks after Saturday’s Far East Class AA championship game at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea.
Seoul American senior center Margaret Nurse embraces coach Charlotte Hicks after Saturday’s Far East Class AA championship game at Yongsan Garrison, South Korea. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)
Kadena Panthers forward Elizabeth Cotto shoots between Seoul American defenders Whitney Grandy (20) and Avianca Manning (31) during Saturday’s Far East Class AA championship game. The Falcons won their second straight title, beating the Panthers 60-49.
Kadena Panthers forward Elizabeth Cotto shoots between Seoul American defenders Whitney Grandy (20) and Avianca Manning (31) during Saturday’s Far East Class AA championship game. The Falcons won their second straight title, beating the Panthers 60-49. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)
Seoul American guard Angye Law (5) puts up a shot over Kadena’s Brittany Gillam.
Seoul American guard Angye Law (5) puts up a shot over Kadena’s Brittany Gillam. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)
Seoul American Jevonna Green (10) shoots over Kadena guard Dianne Abel.
Seoul American Jevonna Green (10) shoots over Kadena guard Dianne Abel. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Margaret Nurse didn’t even want to play basketball this season, hoping for a break from the rigors of playing three sports in her four years of high school.

But play she did — and starred.

Nurse scored 26 points and pulled down 16 rebounds Saturday as the Seoul American Falcons repeated as champions of the Far East High School Girls Class AA Basketball Tournament. They defeated the Kadena Panthers of Okinawa 60-49 on their home court at Falcon Gym.

Nurse transferred last spring to Seoul American from being among top players at Osan American for three seasons and also being on a championship team.

“It didn’t feel right,” Nurse said of not playing for Osan. She also starred for the Cougars’ volleyball team for two years and for the Falcons last fall.

What brought her back to basketball, she said, was talking to her former Osan coach, Bruce Barker, in November.

“He told me, ‘I didn’t work this hard to make you what you are to watch you decide not to play,’” Nurse said.

“The big story was the big girl,” Kadena coach Ken Hudson said of the 6-foot-5 Nurse. “We did a good job on her but her play was the difference.”

Nurse became the first Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific girls player to win championships in Class AA and Class A.

Saturday’s victory came despite the Falcons’ 17 turnovers — Kadena committed 25 — and foul trouble that kept Nurse and sophomore Avianca Manning on the bench for long periods.

Hicks said she’d told her team in the locker room before the game that they’d win if they didn’t get into foul trouble.

But after scoring eight points and grabbing six rebounds in a first quarter in which the Falcons took a 20-11 lead, Manning picked up her fourth foul with 4:41 left in the first half. Nurse’s third foul was whistled 41 seconds into the third period and her fourth just before the quarter ended.

Kadena, which trailed 46-26 midway through that period, suddenly came to life, scoring seven straight points. Nurse and Manning returned with 5 minutes left but the relentless Panthers didn’t quit: With 1:55 left, Liz Cotto’s driving layup cut the Falcons’ lead to 54-46.

That was as close as Kadena got. As the final buzzer sounded, a celebration erupted at the Falcons’ bench — including point guard Whitney Grandy, who spent last school year in her home state of Idaho but returned to Seoul American as a senior.

“This is like a dream come true, coming back here and taking Far East,” she said.

Besides Nurse, Hudson blamed mistakes for the Panthers’ demise. “We turned the ball over too many times and many were unforced errors,” Hudson said. “But I’m proud of my girls.”

Girls Class AA tournamentAt Falcon Gym, Seoul American H.S., South Post, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea

Single-elimination playoffsThursday’s games

Nile C. Kinnick, Japan, 60, Guam High 40

Zama American, Japan, 44, Seisen International, Japan, 22

Hong Kong International 61, Southern, Guam, 37

Christian Academy In Japan 47, Seoul American junior varsity 16

Yokota, Japan, 46, John F. Kennedy, Guam, 34

Kubasaki, Okinawa, 40, American School In Japan 35

Guam High 31, Seisen International 26

John F. Kennedy 41, Seoul American junior varsity 27

Friday’s games

Seoul American 52, Kinnick 48

Hong Kong Int’l 44, Zama 28

CAJ 47, Yokota 28

Kadena 38, Kubasaki 16

Seoul American 69, Hong Kong Int’l 36

Kadena 51, CAJ 49 (OT)

Kinnick 51, Zama 48

Guam High 43, ASIJ 41

John F. Kennedy 42, Southern 39

Kubasaki 36, Yokota 35

Kinnick 54, Guam High 42

John F. Kennedy 37, Kubasaki 35

Saturday’s games

Kinnick 32, John F. Kennedy 30 (fifth place)

CAJ 52, Hong Kong Int’l 32 (third place)

Seoul American 60, Kadena 49 (championship)

AwardsMost Valuable Player: Margaret Nurse, Seoul American.

All-Tournament Team: Margaret Nurse, Avianca Manning, Erica Anglade, Seoul American; Lualhati Johnson (three-time selection), Nile C. Kinnick; Elizabeth Cotto (two-time selection), Zori Drew, Kadena; Tiffani Wright (two-time selection), Zama American; Lily Baranda (two-time selection), John F. Kennedy; Kelsey Masuda (two-time selection), Kelsey Hardeman, Christian Academy In Japan; Nikita Stallbom, Lauren Hsu, Hong Kong International; Chyna Roach, Yokota; Chelsie Gofigan, Southern; Kelly Robinson, Kubasaki.

Team Sportsmanship Award: Seisen International.

Saturday’s summaries

Championship

Kadena 11 11 9 18 49

Seoul American 20 12 14 14 60

Leading scorers: Seoul American, Margaret Nurse 26 (8-for-10 foul line); Kadena, Zori Drew 12, Elizabeth Cotto 11. Leading rebounders: Seoul American, Margaret Nurse 16, Avianca Manning 6, Erica Anglade 6. Noteworthy: Kadena committed 25 turnovers to 17 for Seoul American.

Third place

Hong Kong International 9 11 5 7 32

Christian Academy In Japan 5 19 17 11 52

Leading scorers: Christian Academy In Japan, Kelsey Hardeman 19, Kelsey Masuda 18; Hong Kong International, Nikita Stallbom 10.

Fifth place

Nile C. Kinnick 11 6 9 6 32

John F. Kennedy 3 6 5 16 30

Leading scorers: Nile C. Kinnick, Lualhati Johnson 9, Stephanie Francisco 9; John F. Kennedy, Emily Pardilla 15.

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