Nagaoka scores 50 in tournament final

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Their dominance could not be halted.

Forward Moeko Nagaoka scored 50 points and captain Rui Machida dished out 14 assists as the Sapporo Yamanote High School girls basketball team crushed Nakamura Gakuen High School 97-59 in the final of the 41st All-Japan High School Basketball Tournament at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium on Tuesday afternoon.

Yamanote grabbed its first title at the national championships, also dubbed the Winter Cup, and won all three major tournaments (Inter-High School Championships and National Athletic Championships) in the same year.

Yamanote is the eighth school to achieve the treble in history.

“We tried to not be conscious about the treble titles in our practice,” Yamanote head coach Masamitsu Kamishima said after the game. “We just focused on bettering our game, focused on every moment. We thought that it would lead to the treble titles in the end.”

After all, there was no real challenger for Yamanote in the tournament. The Hokkaido school won all five of its tourney contests by at least 37 points. Yamanote clobbered Fukuoka Prefecture’s Wakaba High School 120-59 in the quarterfinals.

Despite its scoring dominance throughout the tournament, Kamishima didn’t necessarily pinpoint the reason for his team’s scoring ability.

“I give the credit to Nagaoka for her rebounding,” Kamishima said. “We overwhelmed opponents in rebounding through the five games. That was a key.

“Also, Machida read the situations really well and led the team. It was so big, too.”

Nagaoka, a 180-cm post player, cleared 17 boards and had four steals, both of which led the team. She made 17 of 21 shots from 2-point range and canned 3 of 4 from beyond the 3-point arc. Yamanote forward Sanae Motokawa added 15 points and 11 rebounds.

“This is a blessing that we won on the best stage in the very end,” Machida said.

In the boys semifinals, guard Emmanuelle Nagashima had 25 points to guide Fukuoka Daiichi High School to a 108-68 win over Funabashi Municipal High School.

On the other side of the bracket, forward Kengo Nomoto led Fukui Prefecture’s Hokuriku High School with 28 points and 24 rebounds en route to a 83-75 victory over Tokyo’s Keihoku High School.

The boys final will tip off at noon on Wednesday.