Taegu American learned from losses to tough teams in tourney
CAMP WALKER, South Korea — They lost all six games they played, coming as close as six points in one but falling by more than 20 in the other five.
But the score hardly was the point, said Michelle Chandler, Taegu American Warriors girls basketball team coach. Rather, it was about learning against bigger, faster and more physical adult players.
“It’s hard knocks,” she said. “That’s how you learn, by playing.”
The Warriors were the only American high school team in the Koreawide Invitational Classic tournament, which featured mostly Army post-level teams, seven on the women’s side and nine men’s squads. For the first time, the tournament also included two Korean men’s universities.
This was the Warriors girls’ second year in the tournament — and the second tournament in Korea in less than two weeks in which high school teams played. Seoul American’s boys and girls went 1-5 and Osan American’s boys 0-3 in last week’s Pacificwide Open at Osan Air Base.
On paper, Taegu American’s girls improved only incrementally from last year’s tournament, losing by an average of 29.5 points per game, down from 34 per game.
However, Chandler said, the real improvement showed up not on the score sheet but in her players’ confidence — such as junior forward Kelli Cox.
“I remember Kelli saying, ‘Wow, we didn’t lose as badly this year,’” Chandler recalled. “I think they felt a little more competitive. I didn’t think we could win any games but they didn’t feel as inferior” as in last year’s tournament.
Again, “They found the pace to be faster” than high school ball, the coach said.
Lynette Grant, who averaged 15 points and eight rebounds per game, “found she could shoot three-pointers and drive to the basket” against her adult counterparts. And Cox “feels more confident in her abilities inside,” Chandler said. “She had been hesitant to shoot but shot with more confidence this time. She did well rebounding, but this also helped with her moves on the inside.”
Taegu American got off to a 4-0 start in the Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference season and Chandler was looking for ways to prepare her team for their perennial nemeses: Seoul and Osan.
“We have Seoul and Osan the first week back,” Chandler said of games to resume the league season next week. “The question was, do we practice or play? This will prepare us better than six days of practice.”