CAMP ZAMA, Japan — Zama American girls basketball coach Dennis Decker looked relieved.

The night before, his Lady Trojans had fouled their way into a loss to the American School In Japan, which shot 30-for-39 from the line in a 61-55 victory.

On Friday, Zama used an early 18-2 run to put away Robert D. Edgren 51-34, despite committing 30 fouls.

“Had they hit more free throws, it would have been a lot closer,” Decker said. Edgren converted just 12 of 25 free throws.

Decker remains worried about his team’s tendency to tire in the second half, which causes it to play a game of “run and reach,” rather than playing defense by getting good position on opponents.

“It’s something we’re working on,” Decker said, adding that his club sandwiched a practice between Thursday’s loss and Friday’s victory to work on proper defense.

“We play aggressive basketball. They’re not used to doing what I’m asking them to do. We’re getting there.”

While pleased with his team’s improvement, the ASIJ loss stuck in Decker’s craw.

“I don’t mind losing when we’re doing what we’re supposed to,” he said. “We gave them the game at the foul line.”

E.J. King and Robert D. Edgren are perhaps the Japan Basketball League’s most well-traveled girls basketball teams. The Lady Cobras made a trip to Kobe last weekend and visited Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station this weekend, while the Lady Eagles rode a bus to the Tokyo area the last two.

E.J. King entered the weekend 4-0, but Edgren coach Sarah Richardson conceded her squad came into both weekends a bit frazzled after the long bus trips.

“It’s very hard,” Richardson said, adding that many of her players are ill. Starting senior swingman Elizabeth Wells is down with an ankle injury and won’t return until January, forcing Richardson to promote a couple of junior varsity players.

Still, she was pleased to have a 3-3 mark, with the bus rides averaging 14 hours each way and chewing up nearly 1,600 miles in two weekends. Edgren suffered lopsided losses in its first games after stepping off the bus, falling 71-47 to Nile C. Kinnick and 51-34 to Zama on Friday.

“Considering staying on the bus, then getting on the court with a team as quick as Zama, I think they’re doing well,” she said. “But I want to see how a team does when they have to come to us.”

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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.

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