Seoul's inside play too much for Osan - barely

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Yokota's Paige Gall tries to pass to teammate Jasmine Strong and prevent Nile C. Kinnick's Rhyssa Hizon from stealing the ball during Friday's game. The Panthers beat the Red Devils 29-24. (Nathan Punla/Special to Stars and Stripes)
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Yokota's Paige Gall tries to pass to teammate Jasmine Strong and prevent Nile C. Kinnick's Rhyssa Hizon from stealing the ball during Friday's game. The Panthers beat the Red Devils 29-24. (Nathan Punla/Special to Stars and Stripes)

Seoul's inside play too much for Osan - barely

by: Stars and Stripes | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: January 17, 2015

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea – James Davis said he felt a lump in his throat as the shot went skyward. Nicholas White had just launched a game-tying three-point shot attempt, lending more nerves to a pitched, see-saw battle between DODDS Korea’s two unbeaten boys basketball teams.

As the ball bounced out off the rim as the buzzer sounded, Davis said he exhaled a huge sigh of relief. His Seoul American Falcons had just survived their biggest test of the season, coming away with a 66-63 win to improve to 8-0 and hand Osan its first loss.

“In a lot of ways, you were hoping this would be a great game and in a lot of ways, you weren’t; I have enough gray hairs as it is,” Davis said. “But these are the kind of games you want, and so do they.”

The Falcons, who had won their three previous road games by an average margin of 27.3 points and had never been threatened, fell behind for the first time after one period this season, 17-6.

“They spanked us in the first quarter,” Davis said. Particularly deadly was White, the Pacific’s leading scorer entering the game at 30.5 points per game; he scored 33 points, including five three-pointers. “They were hitting behind the NBA arc,” Davis said.

Noting that the Cougars kept the Falcons on their heels despite a pronounced lack of height, he said: “If they had one big guy, it would have been over. They used their quickness to their advantage. They play tough defense, they move to the ball well.”

A.J. Batts hit two clutch baskets late in the fourth quarter to give the Falcons the cushion they would need. Myles Haynes added 17 points and Jez Harper, Seoul American’s most consistent scorer, added 15. Harper and Haynes combined for 11 steals.

Were it not for a couple of missed foul shots and a handful of turnovers late, the outcome might have been different, Cougars coach James Tolliver said. “We gave them a fight. It could have gone either way,” he said. “I’m proud of my guys. We woke some people up tonight.”

The same was the case of Okinawa’s high school teams on Day 1 of the 24th anniversary Martin Luther King Invitational Tournament on Okinawa, where Kubasaki’s boys and Kadena’s boys and girls each won their opening pool-play games.

“We played well. It was a good game for us,” coach Jon Fick said after Kubasaki downed Black Top Cru 43-32. Kadena’s girls survived a late rally by Kadena Air Base’s Lady Warriors for a 33-29 win. The Panthers boys had no such trouble handling The District of Foster 56-30.

Another brand of Panther slayed its demons of the last couple of years, as Yokota got its first win at St. Mary’s since 2012, downing the Titans 72-53 behind Jadan Anderson’s 23 points.

“Good crowd, Friday night, St. Mary’s senior night,” Yokota coach Paul Ettl noted. “St. Mary’s shot well, St. Mary’s played well. Any road win you can get in the Kanto is a good win.”

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