Players can't take a holiday break just yet
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa – Many a player and coach could be forgiven if they felt they were facing a number of distractions as the ides of December arrive.
There are holiday band and choir concerts on tap, along with talent shows, Madrigal dinners … oh, and the two-week DODDS holiday period is about a week away. Two weeks of shopping days until Christmas.
But coaches say there’s still work to be done before the dismissal bell on Dec. 18 signals the start of the two-week break.
“Playing games are the biggest incentive,” said Gerald Johnson, coach of Kadena’s boys basketball team. It has a full weekend slate along with a rematch of last year’s Far East Division I Tournament final at Kubasaki on Wednesday.
“Pride and winning, it keeps them working to get better. Plus there’s the desire for more playing time,” Johnson said. “Athletes consider the season their time to shine, which helps them keep their focus.”
Friday and Saturday is the last full weekend before the schools shut their doors for the rest of 2015. A handful of long-haul basketball and wrestling bus trips remain in Japan and Korea, with just one left on a weekday – Seoul American at Daegu on Wednesday.
Among the key pre-holiday matchups, Matthew C. Perry girls basketball takes its 4-0 record from last weekend’s Sabres Invitational at Osaka into a home weekend set against Division I Nile C. Kinnick.
Defending Far East Division II boys champion Yokota goes south to E.J. King for a weekend against the Cobras, who came out of the Falcons Invitational in Kobe last weekend likewise unbeaten at 3-0.
Seoul American’s boys began the season with three wins in three games and will welcome Osan on Saturday; the Cougars halved their first two games under principal and new coach Morgan Nugent.
All of Okinawa’s DODDS basketball teams see at least one game of action this weekend, Kubasaki’s and Kadena’s boys twice each, before the Wednesday rivalry games. Panthers wrestling also pays a visit to Dragonland, this one on Thursday.
Guam’s second-quarter sports season comes to an end with the league playoffs. Sophomore center Britney Bailey, averaging double figures in points and rebounds, is the centerpiece player on a Guam High team hoping to advance to the semifinals, perhaps get a shot at their first island title.
School resumes for DODDS in Japan, Korea and Okinawa on Jan. 4.