King, Yokota hand each other first losses
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan – In the first of what could be several meetings between the current DODEA-Japan champions and the current DODEA-Japan regular-season leaders, Yokota’s and E.J. King’s boys each got half of what they wanted in a two-game weekend series.
They took turns handing each other their first defeats of the season. After a 10-0 start, their best since last winning the Far East Division II tournament in 2000, the host Cobras suffered their first loss of the season, 69-59 to the Panthers on Saturday. That came about 18 hours after Yokota, following a 4-0 start, lost a heartbreaker 61-60 Friday.
“Barnburner. Tough game,” Panthers coach Tim Pujol remarked about Friday’s loss, in which King led 61-51 with three minutes left, then Yokota staged a late rally only to come up short. “It wasn’t quite enough to get the job done.”
King shot 23-for-64 in the game and Yokota 25-for-63, but it was second-chance points, 19 for the Cobras to just 10 for the Panthers, that made the difference. “There’s the ballgame,” Pujol said.
Gemmar Caasi led five Cobras in double figures with 16 points.
Hunter Cort, the Panthers’ points leader all season, had 25 Friday and struck for 21 more on Saturday as the Panthers outscored the Cobras 21-11 in the final period, including eight in the final minute, to pull away from King 69-59. Dyson Robinson led the Cobras with 21.
“It kind of slipped away at the end,” Cobras coach Laird Small said. “It was a tough one. But we’ll see them many more times,” he said of upcoming tournaments such as the DODEA-Japan Feb. 9-11 and the Far East D-II Feb. 20-23, both at Yokota.
The Panthers also downed Matthew C. Perry 71-36. Yokota’s girls came out of the weekend with three victories. Led by guard-center tandem Jamia and Britney Bailey, the Panthers easily beat Perry 44-16 and King 56-22 on Saturday and 38-28 on Friday.
In another barnburner at American School In Japan, Nile C. Kinnick’s boys had five players in double figures, led by Kedrick Stockman with 24, and survived the Mustangs 77-73 in overtime.