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SHARKS MAKE HISTORY WITH GIRLS HOOPS TITLE

Sanchez pulls of championship performance over JFK

By Jay Leon Guerrero

The Sanchez Sharks ended 2023 on a high note, adding an ISA Girls Basketball Championship after defeating the JFK Islanders 36-32 Friday night at the Tiyan Gym.

This is the first championship for the Sharks in a long time, or possibly, the first ever. Regardless, the Sharks made history Friday night.

(NOTE: The Sharks won the girls basketball title in 1989)

Sanchez players Kayna Kanemoto and Ronnie Cruz share a hug with league MVP Hanna Meinik of Okkodo after taking the championship game Friday night. (photo by Matt Lorenzo)

“I believe this is our first ever girls basketball championship. No one can seem to remember when the last one was, but I also don’t recall seeing a banner in the past. So this one is extra special,” said Shark head coach Arvin Domingo.

The Sharks are having a good school year thus far after winning a volleyball title in the first quarter.

“It feels so accomplishing. I just did what I could to help the team in volleyball and now basketball, “said ISA Volleyball MVP and champion Kayna Kanemoto.

Ronnie Dela Cruz had the hot hand of the night, scoring a game-high 19 points. Her final two points put the Sharks up for good with nine seconds left.

Kanemoto had the ball at the free throw line and passed it down to Dela Cruz for an open lay-up. The play, a high-low play, was well executed with the championship on the line.

“Me and Ronnie, we just click like that. It was a read and run play, we’ve been clicking since last year, and she completed a great play,” said Kanemoto. Kanemoto had a game high three blocks in a defensive chess match between the two teams.

The victory ended a two year reign from the Islanders. Both teams split their regular season matchups, with the Sharks winning the tie-breaker in the main event.

The 2023 ISA Girls Basketball League champion Simon Sanchez Sharks. (photo by Matt Lorenzo)

Game sequence
The game was tied 17-17 at halftime, but the Sharks led for a major chunk of the half. Dela Cruz helped the Sharks to go up by seven points after hitting two three-pointers.

JFK tied up the game after going on a 5-0 run to end the half. Franchesca Aguilar made a lay-up and Jaelyn Han drained a three-pointer before halftime to tie the game.

The Sharks surge ahead late in the third quarter. Chey Movida hits a lay-up, beating the third quarter buzzer to put Sanchez ahead 25-20 after three quarters.

The Sharks go up 29-23 with three minutes left after Chloe Delambaca hits a mid-range jumper. JFK’s Han makes two free throws, and Hope Kanemoto follows up with a basket for Sanchez.

Up 31-25, Han drives to the basket again and gets fouled – making both free throws to cut into the lead with less than a minute left.

Both teams trade free throws, and the Sharks are clinging to a 34-32 lead. After a timeout, Kayna Kanemoto finds Dela Cruz for the game winner with nine seconds left. The Islanders launch a deep three-pointer, but it is no good, and the Sharks start their celebration.

Aguilar had 12 points and two steals for JFK. Han had 11 points, five rebounds, and three assists.

Movida had seven points for the Sharks, Hope Kanemoto had four points and five rebounds.

The Sharks faced many obstacles this season, especially not having a home court. But they played through adversity and disadvantages, playing together no matter what court they play on.

“Couldn’t be prouder of this team, especially for not having a dedicated home court. I told them that wasn’t an excuse for not being able to win the championship,” added Domingo.

The Sharks will now have one more game in the GSPN Champion vs. Champion game against the IIAAG champion St. Paul Warriors on January 6th at the FD Phoenix Center.

Bulldogs win third
The Okkodo Bulldogs won the consolation third place game over the Southern Dolphins 55-43 despite a 30-point performance from Dolphins’ Lana Quinata.

ISA Girls Basketball MVP Hanna Meinik led the Bulldogs with 26 points. 

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COMING SOON …

DPR Liberation Village Baseball Tournament

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QUICK HITS

Guahan Juniors 18s outside hitter Masato Rabago and Guahan Juniors 16s middle blocker Antonio Egurrola both earned All-Tournament awards at last month’s USA Volleyball Boys Junior National Championship in Dallas, Texas.
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Captain Adam San Gil, along with his crew Dominick San Gil and Mark Domingo, took first place in the Mahi Mahi division aboard the Amber Marie in the 40th Saipan Invitational Fishing Derby.
The winning Mahi weighed 23.9 lbs. The crew took 3rd in the Bonita division (14 lbs) and 4th in the Marlin division (123.5 lbs).
Seventeen boats from Guam competed in Saipan’s big derby.

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