MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Matthew C. Perry High School hosted the 2016 Division 2 Girls’ Far East Basketball Tournament at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Feb. 15-18, 2016.
Seven high schools from the Far East division traveled to Iwakuni for the competition. The teams spent the week playing in brackets to determin who could make the cut for the championship game.
In the championship match between the Zama Trojans from Camp Zama, Japan, and the Yokota Panthers from Yokota Air Base, Japan, the Panthers took the trophy with a score of 50-24. This is the Panthers second year in a row taking first place at the Far East tournament. April Kelley, tournament director for the Division 2 Girls’ Basketball Tournament, said the Panthers have dominated all week.
“The game was pretty predictable,” said Kelley. “The Panthers mercy ruled nearly every game in the division so far. They have a unique situation where four strong players who are individually developed in a different skill set are on the same team, making them lethal.”
It was an emotional finish for both teams as the Panthers celebrated in victory. The Trojans struggled to keep control of the ball the whole game while Yokota ruled the court. The last quarter brought out some aggression and motivation, but the Panthers remained undefeated.
Despite coming out on top, Kaliah Henderson, point guard for the Yokota Panthers, said she feels they could have done better and worked on their defense more.
“We’ll take what we learned about our weaknesses this week and use it to improve ourselves,” said Henderson. “I was injured for the first six games but I’m really glad I got to participate in the championship game. It was well worth the hard work when we all came together at the end crying, hugging and laughing.”
Henderson also won the tournament MVP award. Second to the Yokota Panthers, the Zama Trojans rose to the occasion just ahead of M.C. Perry’s Samurai who placed third. M.C. Perry is scheduled to host the tournament again next year.
“My favorite part is watching the kids play and seeing how enthusiastic they are about the game,” said Kelley. “That’s the reason I decided to run the tournament this year.”