Yokota, Kinnick come out on top at ASIJ tourneys

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Yokota's Marquis Smith-Brown comes down with a loose ball between St. Mary's Ken Asai, left, and Thomas Wood during Saturday's boys championship game in the ASIJ Kanto Classic basketball tournament. Smith-Brown made two crucial steals in the final minute and scored a clutch three-point goal with 34 seconds left as the Panthers downed the Titans 57-47.  DAVE ORNAUER/STARS AND STRIPES
From Stripes.com
Yokota's Marquis Smith-Brown comes down with a loose ball between St. Mary's Ken Asai, left, and Thomas Wood during Saturday's boys championship game in the ASIJ Kanto Classic basketball tournament. Smith-Brown made two crucial steals in the final minute and scored a clutch three-point goal with 34 seconds left as the Panthers downed the Titans 57-47. DAVE ORNAUER/STARS AND STRIPES

Yokota, Kinnick come out on top at ASIJ tourneys

by: Dave Ornauer | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: January 30, 2017

TOKYO – Marquis Smith-Brown hit just one basket. But it could not have come at a better time for Yokota.

The Yokota junior shooting guard sank a three-point goal with 34 seconds left and had two crucial steals that led to points in the final minute. Those proved to be the daggers as the Panthers held off St. Mary’s 57-47 in Saturday’s final of the American School In Japan Kanto Plain Classic.

“Pretty big one,” Yokota coach Tim Pujol said of Smith-Brown’s huge three. “He came up with those two steals and that basket. I can’t say enough about him. He works hard and he’s a great teammate.”

Another DODEA Kanto Plain team captured the title in the girls’ half of the tournament, with Nile C. Kinnick holding off the host Mustangs 36-28.

Both of Smith-Brown’s steals came off inbound passes by the Titans. He raced up court, then hit the three after a Panthers miss inside. The next steal led to a basket underneath by Renyck Robertson that capped the win. Robertson finished with 19 points and Hunter Cort 14 for Yokota.

“Renyck came on so much as an inside presence, and Hunter, he’s the engine that drives the team,” Pujol said. “Everybody looks to him. That includes me.”

Throughout the game, Yokota would use scoring runs to go up by as many as 15 - on Robertson’s layup to make it 37-22 with 2:50 left in the third period. But every time, the Titans would creep back and make it a game.

Ken Asai, who led the Titans with 26 points, hit a three-pointer to get the Titans within a possession, at 50-47 with 1:01 left. It was as close as St. Mary’s would get.

“We had our chances,” Titans coach George Clarkson said. “We missed some easy shots and Yokota made some shots they shouldn’t have. They’re a really good team, they’re well-coached, a credit to themselves.”

Thomas Wood, St. Mary’s leading scorer, was held to 11 points.

ASIJ’s girls top scorer, center Grace Wallrapp, was held to four points by the Red Devils’ defense.

The Mustangs committed 24 turnovers and the Red Devils took advantage, scoring 20 of their 36 points off turnovers.

Kinnick avenged its 38-26 loss to ASIJ in Friday’s pool-play game, in which the Mustangs concentrated defensively on taking freshman center Dallas Carter out of her game. For much of Saturday’s final, Kinnick focused on stopping senior guard Allie Rogers, ASIJ’s key playmaker.

Mustangs coach Julie Rogers “made a great adjustment” in neutralizing Carter, Kinnick coach Mike Adair said. “When you take away a stud player, you can’t win. So today, we took away Allie, ran a box-and-one on her and subbing to keep fresh bodies in there.”

Carter paced the Red Devils with 17 points and nine rebounds. After four early lead changes and five ties, Kinnick went ahead to stay on Jade McGinnis’ three late first-half field goals and the Red Devils closed the first half leading 20-14. They led by as many as 13 in the second half.

“Kinnick played very well today,” Rogers said, noting that the Red Devils had to win two “tough games” Saturday to just reach the final. The two teams meet again Wednesday at Yokosuka Naval Base.