TOKYO — The St. Paul Christian School Warriors girls basketball team claimed another championship, defeating the Kadena High School Panthers, 38-33, Saturday in the 2023 Kanto Classic Basketball Invitational in Tokyo, Japan.
After winning the Independent Interscholastic Athletic Association of Guam championship and the All-Island championship, the Kanto Classic victory was the cherry on top of a memorable season. The Warriors, by defeating the Panthers at the American School in Japan, avenged a loss in pool play, their only loss of the tournament.
The Warriors, in pool play, lost to Kadena, 38-25. But, in a game that mattered most, made the necessary adjustments.
A well-deserved honor, St. Paul’s Anaya Mudzimarena was named the tournament MVP. Mudzimarena and A’lura Hernandez played exceptionally well for the entire tournament. The frontcourt duo anchored the Warriors on both sides of the floor.
“Having good leadership from our coaches was very impactful for us,” Mudzimarena said. “Women coaches are starting to come up, and they encouraged us when we had our off days, and they were always there for us, for everything.”
From top to bottom, the Warriors were a complete team, with guards Kaylie Pinaula, Kimora Charfauros, Kailie Celo, Ryanna Ngirchomlei and Sazzy Quintanilla complementing their centers.
Friars finish 2nd
In the boys competition, the Father Duenas Memorial School Friars advanced to the championship game but fell to powerhouse St. Mary’s International School, 59-51.
After eliminating Yokota High School, 75-62, in the semifinals, the Friars played their third game of the day in the finals.
St. Mary’s, against the Friars, established an early lead and never looked back. The Friars bench stepped it up in the fourth quarter and cut the lead to 6 points, but St. Mary’s iced the game at the charity stripe.
The Friars’ second unit kept FD within contention, as Kiyoshi Sayama, in the first half, drained four 3-pointers. Teammates and starters Blaise Ada, Noah Tenorio, and Jaden Santos also had strong games.
“With our regular season coming up soon, the experience and reps we’ve been getting here against big competition will only help us get better,” Santos said. “I feel this trip really solidified our bond as a team.”
Okkodo wins 3rd
The Okkodo High School Bulldogs ended the tournament on a high note, defeating Yokota to finish third. After winning a thrilling 65-61 overtime quarterfinal win against Yokohama International School, the Bulldogs suffered a loss against St. Mary’s in the semifinals.
The Bulldogs made the most of their trip and defeated Yokota in the third place consolation game and left Japan with important experience heading into the Guam Department of Education Interscholastic Sports Association 2023 season.
The Bulldogs, arriving at the airport on game day, went straight to the gym from the plane. As the Bulldogs walked onto the ASIJ campus, with their luggage, Christian Academy Japan was already warming up.
Throughout the tournament, the Bulldogs were tested and learned how to acclimate to different styles of play.
Kayjay Martin had a breakout tournament, leading the Bulldogs on offense and defense. Consistently, Martin scored in double-digits and hit crucial 3-pointers.
Academy finishes 5th
For the Academy of Our Lady of Guam Cougars, meeting a familiar foe in the quarterfinals — the St. Paul Warriors — sent them down to the consolation bracket.
Despite being ousted by a Guam team, Academy head coach Jimmy Yi will have a young squad return next season with experience. Maria-Jean Paulino, Mylie Butters and Madeline Ada each gained real-time, international knowledge.