Seoul American boys continue torrid start

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Daegu's Joone Abaya looks to pass against Yongsan during Saturday's high school boys basketball game. The Guardians beat the Warriors 51-38.   Jinna Yu/Special to Stars and Stripes
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Daegu's Joone Abaya looks to pass against Yongsan during Saturday's high school boys basketball game. The Guardians beat the Warriors 51-38. Jinna Yu/Special to Stars and Stripes

Seoul American boys continue torrid start

by: . | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: December 14, 2015

After stumbling late last season to a fifth-place finish in the Far East Division I Tournament, Seoul American boys basketball has rebounded to begin the current season with a flourish.

Guard Jez Harper is averaging 14.8 points per game and DeAndre Metcalf is averaging nearly a double-double, 10 points and 9.3 rebounds, and the Falcons have won their first four games by an average margin of 29.8 points.

Their opponents have most assuredly taken notice, most recently Osan coach Morgan Nugent, whose Cougars fell 87-53 at Falcon Gym on Saturday, Josh Scott leading the way with 21 points.

“Their coach has done a great job with those kids,” Nugent said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how they do come tournament time. He’s got some athletes.”

Steve Boyd has three D-I titles to his credit after coming to Seoul American from Robert D. Edgren, where he coached the Eagles to a D-I title-game appearance in 1998.

The Falcons are one of several teams who coaches have said are on the road to betterment, even if their final scores don’t reflect it.

Kadena’s girls, three times in four years the Far East D-I runner-up, fell 78-45 on Saturday to Okinawa’s No. 1-rated Japanese team. But coach Willie Ware said his Panthers made a “much better effort” than in their previous appearances against a Japanese team.

“You can tell we’ve improved since our first game,” Ware said. Kadena lost 95-29 to Futenma in its first game on Nov. 30.

With just one returning starter, Nile C. Kinnick’s girls weren’t expecting much heading into a weekend road trip against previously unbeaten Matthew C. Perry.

But the Red Devils came away with two wins, 41-30 on Friday and 42-40 on Saturday behind Jan Rosario, who averaged 12 points on the weekend.

“We had a nice road trip,” coach Mike Adair said. “We’re learning to play with each other.”

Anna Webster and Daegu’s girls could be given a pass for celebrating one first-quarter basket like they’d won the Super Bowl. But their first field goal in three games this season was cause for optimism for a team building virtually from ground up, coach George Riley said.

The Warriors fell to 0-3 with a 48-4 loss to Yongsan. They had two field goals “and we almost had two more, a couple went off the rim,” Riley said.

“At least it wasn’t 60-0,” he said of the team’s first defeat eight days earlier against Seoul Foreign. “Our defense is improving. I told them I’d stay if they stayed. We’re starting to cook.”

Already cooking on the mats are Kinnick and Seoul American, each of whom stayed unbeaten through two weekends of action. The Red Devils won their second dual tournament in as many weeks, capturing the ZamaDuels team title, beating St. Mary’s 40-21 in the final.

Meanwhile, the Falcons improved to 5-0, winning all three duals in the first meet hosted by Humphreys this season. The Blackhawks got off the ground late and have just three in the lineup.

“I think we’re in the thick of the race,” Kinnick coach Gary Wilson said. His Red Devils are two-time defending Far East D-I dual-meet team champions, both at St. Mary’s expense. The Titans hold the last two D-I individual freestyle team titles.

“There’s a long way to go and you can expect a different St. Mary’s team in January,” Wilson said, adding that Kinnick’s “Beast” tournament “will give a good idea of where we stack up in terms of Far East with all the D-I schools attending.”

With four wins on Saturday, the Red Devils have won 30 straight dual meets dating back to a January 2014 loss to St. Mary’s.

“Kinnick is solid throughout the weight classes and it’s extremely difficult to pin their wrestlers or keep their score to 0,” Titans coach Shu Yabui said.

While those two teams along with Seoul American appear to be the early D-I favorites, the Division II chase could be wide open, Wilson said.

While one should never count out two-time defending champion Robert D. Edgren, Matthew C. Perry and Yokota “are on the rise for sure.”

“Find a way to fill those open weights by January,” Wilson said would be key for the D-II teams. “Whoever can spread their kids out will have a huge leg up in D-II.”

Coach Ben Pak and the Falcons are 2-0 thus far this season against Osan, which has finished second the last two years to Edgren in Far East. “They’re young, new and inexperienced; they need time to grow,” Pak said. “But Far East isn’t for two months. Give them some time.”

 

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