Yokota downs Edgren for fourth straight crown
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan – Whenever the Yokota girls basketball team brought home a tournament title of some kind the last four years, you could bet a player named Bailey was chiefly responsible.
That was very much the case on Tuesday, when seniors Britney and Jamia Bailey led a second-half onslaught that paced the Panthers to a 39-23 win over Robert D. Edgren for their fourth straight Far East Division II Tournament title.
“Teamwork makes the dream work,” said Panthers coach Byron Wrenn after Jamia Bailey added D-II title No. 8 to her pile of Far East hardware and Britney Bailey made it four titles in four attempts, two each in volleyball and basketball.
Britney Bailey led the Panthers with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Jordyn Logue added nine points and six steals for a Yokota team that saw Jamia Bailey saddled with foul trouble in the second half.
But it was Jamia’s ball control in the fourth quarter that helped Yokota hold onto the lead “when we needed it most,” Wrenn said.
“Having those two leaders close out their senior season with another D-II title was awesome to see,” said Panthers coach Byron Wrenn, who also helmed a Yokota volleyball team that won its third straight D-II title in October.
“They led their team with poise and resilience. Their teammates answered the call and responded,” Wrenn said.
Yokota became the only team in the 28-year history of the Far East D-II tournament to win the title four straight years. Seoul International won the first three from 1990-92; other than Yokota, no D-II team has won that many consecutively.
The outcome continued a lengthy string of Far East finals heartbreak for the Eagles, especially for Sarah Richardson, who has coached volleyball and basketball at Edgren for nearly three decades.
Richardson has steered seven teams to Far East finals, and seven times, she’s been denied a title. The Eagles have lost to Yokota in the last four tournaments the teams have met in the finals.
Early in Tuesday’s contest, it looked as if breaking that streak of futility might be possible. The teams traded the lead four times in the first two quarters, with Edgren leading 14-13 at half.
But the Panthers unleashed a man-to-man press in the third quarter that completely turned the tide. Edgren was outscored 12-3 in the third period and 14-6 in the fourth.
Edgren and Yokota each have a chance at more Far East hardware with the two-day combined tournament that begins Wednesday morning and lasts two days. Divisions I and II schools have not played together in the same Far East since 1989 at Yokota.