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COUGARS REIGN SUPREME IN KANTO CLASSIC

Academy downs Nile C. Kinnick in Japan

By Dave Ornauer (Stars and Stripes Pacific)

TOKYO – They’d lost two days earlier by 13 points to their eventual finals opponent. On Saturday, Academy of Our Lady of Guam made sure the same thing didn’t happen a second time. Led by tournament co-Most Valuable Players Torie Rapadas and Maria Paulino, the Cougars avenged their groups stage loss Thursday to Nile C. Kinnick of Japan, rallying past the Red Devils 27-19 for the 6th American School In Japan Kanto Classic tournament title.

Unlike Thursday’s 41-28 loss in the group stage to Kinnick, the Cougars kept their heads about them, didn’t worry about being outsized by the taller Red Devils and used varying zone presses effectively, AOLG players and coaches said.

“It all starts with energy,” said Paulino. “We all stayed composed this time. The last time, we weren’t composed and we just went wild.” It was Paulino’s basket with 1:20 left in the third quarter that put the Cougars ahead to stay 19-17. Until then, it had been a see-saw battle.

Kanto Classic champion Academy Cougars

The Red Devils led by as many as six in the second quarter, but the Cougars scored the last seven points of the first half and entered intermission leading by a point. Five of the game’s seven lead changes took place in the third quarter. Paulino’s basket late in the period sparked a 6-0 run, including back-to-back baskets set up by AOLG steals.

Throughout the contest, the Cougars used various defensive looks, a 1-3-1 trap, a 1-1-2-1 press, forcing the Red Devils into repeated mistakes that the Cougars turned into points. “We had too many turnovers (and) we let them (Cougars) dictate the pace of the game,” Kinnick coach David Weiland said.

All-Tournament Team
Maddy Ada
Maria Paulino (co MVP)
Tori Rapadas (co MVP)

In addition to Rapadas and Paulino being named co-MVPs, Maddie Ada was named to the All-Tournament team. This tournament served as some redemption for the Cougars. They came in second to St. Paul Christian in the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam.

Academy also handed the Red Devils their first loss in 18 games this season. Kinnick reached the final by downing Okkodo 21-16 in one semifinal. The Cougars edged Kadena 29-25 in the other semifinal.

The victory also salved a bit of heartbreak that the Cougars experienced six years earlier in the second iteration of the ASIJ tournament. Unanimous MVP Mia San Nicolas and AOLG lost 45-35 to Kadena in the 2018 final.

Among other teams from Guam in the ASIJ Kanto Classic, Father Duenas came in second in the tournament’s Silver Bracket, losing to Zama American 53-48. Earlier Saturday, the Friars beat International School Bangkok 45-31. Okkodo’s boys won twice Saturday in consolation play, beating Chadwick International of Korea 57-51, then edging Yokota 54-51. John F. Kennedy won the girls Silver Bracket, squeaking past host ASIJ 22-19. Earlier, the Islanders downed Kubasaki 32-16.

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COMING SOON …

Guam National Bodybuilding Championship June 29

Father Duenas Alumni Basketball Tournament

Guam National Triathlon Championship July 14

QUICK HITS

Ryleen Mya Castro was named team MVP for the St. Mary’s College of California Women’s Rugby team in only her sophomore season. Castro is a 2022 graduate from Guam High.
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Coach Donan Cruz and the U.S. Men’s U21 National Team took home gold at the 2024 NORCECA Continental Championship with a 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 27-25) win over Canada in Nogales, Mexico. The victory guaranteed the U.S. a spot in the 2025 FIVB U21 World Championship.

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