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Health and weather loomed as major concerns as the Japan Basketball League resumed play on Friday, following three weeks off for the Christmas holiday break.

In some cases, the weather didn’t even permit some teams to travel — E.J. King’s boys and girls teams were forced to turn back a third of the way to Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station, where they were to play a weekend JBL series against the Matthew C. Perry Samurai and Zama American Trojans.

“The snow was pretty heavy and they shut down” the Kyushu Expressway, Cobras boys coach and E.J. King athletics director Daren Schuettpelz said. Finally, the school called and ordered the team buses back home to Sasebo Naval Base.

“The kids were bummed about not being able to go, but when Mother Nature comes storming down, there’s not much you can do about it,” Schuettpelz said.

E.J. King’s boys (5-3 overall, 2-2 JBL) and girls (7-1, 4-1) were to play two games each against Perry’s boys (2-6, 0-4) and girls (6-6, 0-4) and Zama’s boys (6-2, 3-2) and girls (5-0, 3-0) over the weekend.

Tiffani Wright’s 33 points and 15 rebounds helped the Trojans’ girls pound the Samurai 54-28. Wilberto Badillo scored 24 points as Zama’s boys routed Perry 71-28.

It was not immediately known when or if the Cobras’ games would be made up. Zama was scheduled to make only one trip to Iwakuni this season.

Worse, due to a quirk in the schedule, the Cobras’ boys and girls teams aren’t scheduled to play until Jan. 27-28, when the boys travel to Senri International School in Osaka and the girls to Marist Brothers International School in Kobe.

“We’re going to try to schedule some local teams” in the Sasebo area to make up for the games shortfall, Schuettpelz said.

For those that did play, some teams took the court with depleted rosters, due to a variety of winter-related illnesses, such as the Nile C. Kinnick Red Devils girls, who outlasted the Robert D. Edgren Eagles 43-37 in a game in which both sides dressed just seven players.

Kinnick coach Henry Falk had two starters sidelined and, of his seven players, three were playing despite their infirmities. Some missed at least one day of school during the week.

“We had to keep rotating them in and out,” said Falk, whose Red Devils raced to a 27-15 halftime lead, then survived a third quarter in which they scored just two points.

Rust from the holiday layoff had a little to do with it.

“It was our first game back from vacation,” Falk said. “Being tired and out of shape. We need to get in better condition. But if you’re sick, you’re not going to play well. We need to get healthy and stay healthy.”

Still, Falk said he was pleased with the play of Charlemagne Cameron, Lualhati Johnson and Sarah Greenert, who combined for 37 points and helped Kinnick keep at arm’s length an Eagles team that got a combined 32 points from Gerralyn Calhoun, Krystine Horsley and Tanya Lara.

“It was a good team effort,” Falk said.


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