Pacific edition, Wednesday, January 21, 2009

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – As dependent spouses, Lia Gainey and Denise Juzang aren’t eligible to play for the All-Air Force team. But their coach, Norzell Harris of Japan’s Yokota Warriors, feels they have what it takes to play at that level.

"They have all the qualities," Harris said after Juzang and Gainey paced the Warriors to a 73-48 victory over defending champion Camp Casey/Area I of South Korea in Monday’s championship game of the 15th Martin Luther King Invitational basketball tournament.

On the men’s side, All-Armed Forces veterans Billy Shanks and Jelani Nix powered the Okinawa Bomb Squad past Yokota 92-88, denying Harris, who coached both Yokota teams, a sweep of the MLK titles.

Women’s championship game

Yokota Air Base 73, Camp Casey/Area I 48: Juzang, who played four seasons at Division II Midwestern State in Wichita Falls, Texas, scored 18 of her 24 points in the second half and Gainey, selected the tournament MVP, got 16 of her 22 after halftime.

Harris, who’s an All-Air Force men’s assistant coach, said the Air Force could benefit from the likes of Juzang and Gainey.

"I’d like to see the services change that policy and permit dependents the opportunity to play," he said. "They’re a part of the Air Force family. They’ve earned it by being part of that family."

In Monday’s title game, Juzang in particular "kept the girls together, like a coach on the floor," Harris said. "Gainey played great. When you have talent, coaching is easy. We have some of the best talent at Yokota that I’ve ever seen."

Juzang’s three-point play gave Yokota its biggest lead at 66-38 with 6:43 left. Nichole Rausher paced Casey/Area I with 15 points. Carly Ledeboer added 10 for Yokota.

Men’s championship game

Okinawa Bomb Squad 92, Yokota Air Base 88: Shanks, a two-times All-Armed Forces selection, lived up to his team name, bombing away with three triples in the first 2:30 as Bomb Squad scored the first 11 points. Yokota was far from done, cutting the gap to two points twice in the closing minutes.

"We knew it was going to be a battle," Nix, a four-time All-Armed Forces pick, said of the Warriors. "We wanted to get out of the gate early. This team came together. The guards, big men and the bench came in and gave us some big minutes."

Kevin Cochran gave Bomb Squad its biggest lead at 35-18 6:50 before halftime, and Yokota spent the rest of the game playing catchup. K.D. Harris, who led all scorers with 31 points, cut it to 83-81 with 2:40 left and to 85-83 with 2:11 left on foul shots, but Yokota got no closer.

Shanks hit six threes and finished with 20 points. Nix scored 12 of his 16 in the second half.

author picture
Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now