On paper, they looked like relatively comfortable victories. But for Yokota’s league-leading basketball teams, decisions Thursday over American School In Japan were anything but.

"We feel fortunate to get the win," coach Paul Ettl said after Yokota’s boys rallied from seven points down in the third quarter, shooting 10-for-11 as a team in a 56-46 victory over the Mustangs at the Panther Pit.

"We were just as fortunate," coach Ric Cabral said following Shari Moss’ 5-for-6 foul-line performance in the fourth quarter as the Panthers outscored ASIJ 13-7 in the final period to win 39-34 at Mustang Valley.

Yokota’s boys (21-0 overall, 9-0 league) got 15 points from DeEric Harvin, who went 7-for-8 at the line. Tajh Kirby and Keron Brown each had 12 points as the Panthers increased their Kanto Plain Association of Secondary Schools lead to two games over Nile C. Kinnick (15-5, 6-1).

ASIJ got 13 from Patrick Ward and 11 from Seaun Eddy. The Mustangs fell to 7-7, but the record is as "misleading" as Thursday’s result, Ettl said.

"They’re a tough team," Ettl said of an ASIJ group the Panthers have beaten five times this season, including two December scares — 49-47 on Dec. 2 at ASIJ and 40-39 on Dec. 20 in the New Year Classic at Yokosuka Naval Base.

"They’re well coached and they have good balance, Ward inside and good shooters outside. And Eddy is one of the best players in the Pacific."

As the fourth quarter opened, the Panthers went into press mode and forced some turnovers. "We took advantage of their mistakes and we hit our free throws," Ettl said. "That made the difference."

So, too, did the Panthers’ girls hit their foul shots, particularly Moss, who scored nine of her 12 points in the fourth quarter.

Yokota also relied on defensive pressure, a full-court man-to-man that forced three turnovers that led to scores early in the final period as the Panthers built a nine-point edge. ASIJ crept within three with 1:30 left, then Moss sealed the game at the foul line.

The Panthers (13-2, 8-2) swept the regular-season series over the Mustangs and now lead Kanto by a full game over Zama American (11-4, 7-3), while the Mustangs fell to 3-3.

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