Girls' basketball: Panthers capture Okinawa hoops titles
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Willie Ware has won seven of Kadena’s girls 13 straight Okinawa titles against Kubasaki, and has only lost to the Dragons once during that span.
But when Kadena outlasted Kubasaki by just six points, 31-25 on Friday, Ware said it was no great surprise to him, even after beating the Dragons 51-25 on Dec. 9 and 53-28 on Dec. 16.
“This year, it’s not like it’s been,” Ware said. The fact that Kubasaki made it so close Friday is a sign, he said, that the Dragons are improving.
“Each game is getting closer and closer. They are getting better,” Ware said. “Defensively, they’re playing aggressively. They’re playing as a team. They’re using their bodies. They’re using their size. They’re playing basketball.”
Ceara King led Kubasaki with 13 points. Kadena’s Saj McBurrows had eight.
Meanwhile, Kadena’s boys made it two titles in three years and won by what’s believed to be the biggest margin against Kubasaki since the 1995 Far East Division I Tournament final.
Nick Laney had 15 points and Jahron Mitchell 11 as the Panthers won in a rout 67-44 over a Dragons team that was missing four players, one due to injury and the others due to undisclosed reasons.
The victory was bittersweet for Panthers coach Gerald Johnson, who’s said he’s stepping down as Kadena coach after this season and coached his last regular-season game at the Dragons’ home court. “This is where it all began for me,” Johnson said.