Perry, King boys hoop teams start off strongly
Jarell Davis has had his share of runner-up finishes.
His Matthew C. Perry Samurai basketball team took second in the Far East Division II Tournament last February. Just last month, he and the Samurai came up 10 points short to Daegu in the D-II football title game. And each loss came on home turf.
Clearly fed up with being best man but never a bridegroom, Davis and the Samurai made a solid statement to open the Japan boys basketball campaign, taking their first two games Friday in the Western Japan Athletic Association Tournament at Senri Osaka International School.
“The kids are hungry,” coach Dewayne Pigge’ said following Perry’s 57-24 win over Kyoto International University Academy and a 45-33 win over host Senri Osaka International.
Davis averaged 7.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the two games, while Vince Ermitano averaged 12 points, Jon Cadavos 11 and freshman Garrett Macias 12 plus 9.5 rebounds.
The mix of veterans Cadavos, Ermitano and Davis plus the addition of the rookie Macias – son of football coach Frank Macias – have made for good team unity, if the first two games are an indicator, Pigge’ said.
“The chemistry is working,” Pigge’ said. “With those four working together, we have a legitimate shot at the pace we’re going.”
Perry wasn’t the only team to break out of the gate in style in the WJAA tournament – their DODDS Japan rival E.J. King also won twice, each by wide margins.
Jacob Lyle averaged 14.5 points and Dijon Johnson 13 as the Cobras routed KIUA 66-33, then pounded Nagoya International 89-31.
Across Osaka Bay in Kobe at Canadian Academy, the WJAA tournament for girls yielded mixed results for the Samurai, who split two games, while success eluded the rebuilding Cobras, who fell twice.
Perry opened by doubling up KIUA 44-22 behind Ani Erhart’s double-double of 22 points and 17 rebounds; she also blocked four shots. But the Samurai then fell 43-24 to Marist Brothers International; Naomi Ziola had a team-high 11 points in the losing cause.
The Cobras fell 40-29 to host Canadian Academy despite Zanitta Boyd’s 19 points, then fell just short of Nagoya International 27-25; Azaria Fowler scored eight for E.J. King.
Okinawa’s boys teams opened strong, with Kubasaki winning its opening games on back-to-back nights Thursday and Friday, and Kadena taking its opener on Friday, but not without a tussle.
The Panthers outlasted Zion Christian Academy International and its perimeter attack 83-74. Justin Wilson had 19 points and Isaiah Richardson 18, enough to keep the Lions at arm’s length.
ZCAI’s Rejay Maruo and Zechariah Wilson dialed long-distance repeatedly, combining for nine three-point goals and 66 points.
“See them shoot those threes; they were never out of it,” Panthers coach Gerald Johnson said, crediting the win to minimizing turnovers, capitalizing when ZCAI tried to press and pushing the ball inside “which worked out better than I thought it would. Good first game.”
Kubasaki followed its 78-39 home win Thursday over Okinawa Christian International by taking down Ginowan 87-60, also at home. Sixteen was the magic number, the amount of points scored by Skylor Stevens, Nick Ashley and Matt Ashley.
“The pieces are there, but we still have work to do,” Dragons coach Jon Fick said.
One girls team enjoyed gains even in defeat, as Humphreys rebounded from a 60-18 season-opening loss Wednesday at Seoul Foreign by almost rallying past Taejon Christian International. The Blackhawks trailed by 12 most of the way before falling just short, 34-32.
“They decided they wanted to close the gap and fight in the fourth quarter,” coach Ashley Gooch said, adding she was “absolutely” proud of her players. “They fought hard, showed a lot of pride. This is the confidence booster the girls need going into the rest of the season.”
It was not a good night for defending Far East Division II champion Daegu’s boys and girls teams, which each lost at Yongsan International-Seoul.
Kyla Swanson and Hana Ikeda each had 11 points as the Guardians girls routed the Warriors 64-18. The boys held on longer, but still fell 48-42 to YIS-Seoul, which got 21 points from Xavier Sawyer.
Another girls team that very nearly came back was Nile C. Kinnick in its DODDS Japan opener.
Bereft of the size that helped the Red Devils win a Far East Division I title two years ago and outsized by Yokota’s Caitlyn Rowan and Jasmine Strong, Kinnick rallied from a fourth quarter deficit to lead briefly by three points before falling 33-28. Kinnick’s Rhyssa Hizon, barely 5 feet tall, had 24 rebounds, 14 offensive.
And days after the school moved to Division II due to an enrollment drop, Yokota’s boys rode the shooting of Jadan Anderson and Jermaine Neal, who combined for 49 points as the Panthers downed 2013 Far East Division I champion American School In Japan 90-59.