Schools may be closed for Christmas vacation, but the Taegu American boys and girls and Seoul American boys basketball teams spent part of their breaks getting an education of a different sort.
The classrooms: Two post-level tournaments, Dec. 16-20 at Osan Air Base and this week at Camps George and Walker in Daegu.
The curriculum: Sharpening their skills and taking a physical pounding against quicker, bigger adult post-level squads.
Call it “Basketball School of Hard Knocks 101.” Even though the win-loss totals don’t look favorable, Taegu American coaches and players say the benefits which the tournaments confer on their teams are many.
“We don’t play in these tournaments expecting to win, but to develop the skills that you can be successful with,” Warriors boys coach Phillip Loyd said.
The tournament gave the Warriors six more games — all losses — than they would have played otherwise. It served as a rehearsal for the Far East Class A tournament slated for Feb. 19-23 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan. The team also experienced the game played at a faster, more physical level, Loyd said.
“The kids learn they have to adjust,” he said. “This helps me find out what type of players I really have and what they can do when the chips are down.”
The Taegu tournament featured seven South Korea Traveling League men’s teams, Daegu University, Taegu American School and even a team of Pusan American School alumni. The three-team women’s field included host Area IV, Han Il High School and Taegu American.
Ashley Gooch, a sophomore at South Florida and a 2005 Taegu American graduate, has played in the tournament all five years it’s been held there, thrice in high school and twice as a graduate, added to the roster to help the younger players. This year, Gooch was joined by 2006 alums Kelli Cox and Tank Hancock.
“It’s always made us tougher and stronger because we’re playing against grown women who are physically stronger and have played the game for a lot longer,” Gooch said of the Warriors, who were 1-3 in the tournament entering its final day Friday.
The Falcons’ boys went 1-3 in the Pacificwide Open Tournament at Osan, beating Suwon Air Base for the third straight year. They qualified for the double-elimination playoffs, but with school in session on Dec. 18, the Falcons were forced to withdraw.
Seoul American coach Steve Boyd wasn’t content to stop there — he entered his Falcons in a company-level tournament at Yongsan Garrison this week, played and lost to a squad of Seoul American alumni on Tuesday and will play next weekend in the four-team New Year’s Classic at Yokota High School in Japan.
By the time school gets back in session on Jan. 8, the Falcons will have played close to 30 games, with most of the regular season remaining. “That will really help our preparation” for the Far East Class AA tournament Feb. 19-24 at Seoul American, Boyd said.
Organizers said the school teams were more than welcome in the tournaments.
“It gives them games against higher-level teams and gets them ready for season competition,” Taegu tournament organizer Neil Fleischer said, adding that the post-level teams spent time encouraging, giving pointers and even cheering for the Warriors during the tournament. “We’re glad to have them.”
2006 Taegu Holiday TournamentAt Kelly Fitness & Sports Center Camp Walker and Taegu American School Camp George
Wednesday’s games Game 1-Daegu University 2, Chinhae Naval Base 0, forfeitGame 2-Pusan Panthers Alumni 82, Taegu American School 73
Thursday’s games Game 3-Camp Red Cloud 98, Suwon Air Base 66Game 4-Area IV 103, Wonju/Camp Long 61Game 5-Camp Casey 85, Daegu University 31Game 6-Camp Hovey 80, Pusan Panthers Alumni 42Game 7-Suwon Air Base 74, Taegu American School 67; Taegu American School eliminatedGame 8-Wonju/Camp Long 2, Chinhae Naval Base 0, forfeit; Chinhae Naval Base eliminatedGame 9-Camp Casey 71, Camp Red Cloud 54Game 10-Area IV 92, Camp Hovey 69Game 11-Suwon Air Base 67, Daegu University 52; Daegu University eliminatedGame 12-Wonju/Camp Long 78, Pusan Panthers Alumni 76; Pusan Panthers Alumni eliminatedGame 13-Camp Hovey 93, Suwon Air Base 53; Suwon Air Base eliminatedGame 14-Camp Red Cloud 83, Wonju/Camp Long 61; Wonju/Camp Long eliminated
Friday’s games Game 15-Camp Hovey vs. Camp Red CloudGame 16-Camp Casey vs. Area IVGame 17-Game 15 winner vs. Game 16 loserGame 18-Game 15 winner vs. Game 17 winnerGame 19-Game 15 winner vs. Game 17 winner, if Game 15 winner loses Game 18
Camp Red Cloud 98, Suwon Air Base 66 Halftime-Camp Red Cloud 60, Suwon Air Base 23. Scorer-Camp Red Cloud, James White 24.
Area IV 103, Wonju/Camp Long 61 Halftime-Area IV 47, Wonju/Camp Long 31. Scorer-Area IV, Alfred Smith 18.
Camp Casey 85, Daegu University 31 Halftime-Camp Casey 54, Daegu University 17. Scorer-Camp Casey, Mike Olden 20.
Suwon Air Base 74, Taegu American School 67 Halftime-Suwon Air Base 45, Taegu American School 35. Scorer-Suwon Air Base, Mike Whalen 28.
Camp Casey 71, Camp Red Cloud 54 Halftime-Camp Red Cloud 35, Camp Casey 34. Scorers-Camp Casey, Anthony Luverne 21, Anthony Reed 21.
Area IV 92, Camp Hovey 69 Halftime-Area IV 46, Camp Hovey 31. Scorer-Area IV, Dexter Avery 21.
Suwon Air Base 67, Daegu University 52 Halftime-Suwon Air Base 38, Daegu University 25. Scorer-Suwon Air Base, Mike Whalen 19.
Wonju/Camp Long 78, Pusan Panthers Alumni 76 Halftime-Wonju/Camp Long 35, Pusan Panthers Alumni 35. Scorer-Wonju/Camp Long, Raymond DeFreties 22.
Camp Hovey 93, Suwon Air Base 53 Halftime-Camp Hovey 46, Suwon Air Base 21. Scorers-Camp Hovey, Christopher Phillips 19, Mike Olden 19.
Camp Red Cloud 83, Wonju/Camp Long 61 Halftime-Camp Red Cloud 29, Wonju/Camp Long 24. Scorer-Camp Red Cloud, Doriau Williams 22.
Thursday’s games Game 1-Han Il High School 64, Taegu American School 35Game 2-Area IV 64, Han Il High School 52
Friday’s games Game 3-Taegu American School vs. Han Il High SchoolGame 4-Area IV vs. Game 3 winnerGame 5-Area IV vs. Game 3 winner, if Area IV loses Game 4
Han Il High School 64, Taegu American School 35 Halftime-Han Il High School 26, Taegu American School 14. Scorer-Han Il High School, Lee Kyung-sim 23.
Area IV 64, Han Il High School 52 Halftime score not available. Scorer-Area IV, Natoshia Williams 26.