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Ryukyu books spot in playoffs for sixth straight season

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

The Ryukyu Golden Kings clinched their sixth consecutive playoff berth on Saturday, beating the host Shimane Susanoo Magic 79-64.

Anthony McHenry, the reigning regular-season MVP, set the tone for Ryukyu (30-5) with 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, four blocks and three steals.

The Western Conference-leading Golden Kings sank 10 of 25 3-pointers and held the Magic to 4-for-12 shooting from beyond the arc. Ryukyu’s additional 18 points on 3s gave them a valuable cushion.

Draelon Burns sank 3 of 6 3s in a 17-point effort and Naoto Kosuge was 4-for-8 from long range and scored 14 points.

After the game, Ryukyu coach Tsutomu Isa commented on the aforementioned accomplishment.

“I am pleased that we were able to advance six consecutive years,” Isa said of reaching the playoffs in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture.

Shimane (7-28) played without All-Star big man Jeral Davis and missed his inside presence. T.J Cummings led the Magic with 19 points and 14 rebounds and Edward Yamamoto and Shawn Malloy scored 11 points apiece.

“We had too many turnovers (18) today,” Shimane coach Reggie Hanson, a former JBL star player, told The Japan Times. “Also we must learn to play with discipline for 40 minutes on both ends. We play in spurts right now. We still have too many injuries to key players. We have not had a full healthy roster since I’ve been here.

“We are getting better. Just have to continue to work at it.”

The Susanoo Magic are 2-7 since Hanson took over as coach in mid-January. He replaced Vlasios Vlaikidis, who went 5-21.

Wat’s 75, Northern Happinets 68

In Aomori, the Wat’s earned their biggest conference victory in franchise history, outplaying East-leading Akita in the second half.

Coach Koju Munakata’s expansion squad, which trailed 41-25 at halftime, turned the tide after the break, outscoring the Happinets 50-27.

Gordon Klaiber had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Aomori (17-18) and Abdullahi Kuso provided 16 points and 12 boards. Yuki Kitamuki scored 11 points with six assists and Makoto Sawaguchi and Anthony Kent both had seven points.

The Wat’s raked in 22 offensive rebounds, 11 more than Akita (29-8).

Yuki Togashi and Richard Roby both scored 16 points for the Happinets, with Togashi dishing out eight assists. Ruben Boykin had 13 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

Grouses 91, Broncos 81

In Gyoda, Saitama Prefecture, Toyama did what it does best — unselfish team play — in a series-opening win over the lowly Broncos.

Ira Brown notched his 20th double-double of the season, finishing with 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Grouses (28-9), while Takeshi Mito poured in 18 points with four assists.

Masashi Joho added 14 points and four assists and Josh Gross scored 13 points for Toyama, which led 39-26 at halftime. Big man Sam Willard had 11 points and 13 boards for his 18th double-double.

Toyama converted 55.4 percent of its shots from 2-point range.

John “Helicopter” Humphrey paced Saitama (4-31) with 32 points.

Rizing 66, HeatDevils 57

In Hita, Oita Prefecture, after a wild first half, Fukuoka settled down and outplayed the hosts in the final 20 minutes to wrap up a series sweep.

Rizing guard Akitomo Takeno canned 6 of 8 3-pointers in a game-high 20-point performance and Rintaro Tokunaga added 14 points. Macho forward Reggie Warren came close to a triple-double, contributing nine points, 12 rebounds and nine assists and Seth Tarver had nine points and 11 boards. Cohey Aoki finished with eight points off the bench.

Oita (15-23) led 18-5 after one quarter. Fukuoka then outscored the hosts 17-4 in the second period to even things up at 22-22 entering the intermission.

The HeatDevils, losers of five straight, shot 2-for-14 from beyond the arc.

Byron Allen had 15 points for Oita, followed by Gabe McCulley’s 13 points and 10 boards and Devonne Giles had 12 points. Taishiro Shimizu put nine points on the board.

Star guard Verdell Jones III has been sidelined since a Dec. 2 knee injury against Shinshu, and Oita coach Yukinori Suzuki told The Japan Times on Saturday he doesn’t know when Jones will be available to play again.

Hannaryz 77, Evessa 55

In Osaka, David Palmer had 19 points and Yu Okada scored 16 as Kyoto blasted the hosts.

Edwin Ubiles supplied 14 points for the triumphant Hannaryz (24-15) and Shun Watanuki scored 12. Chris Holm had nine points.

D’Andre Bell led Osaka (15-22) with 16 points and Zach Andrews had 10. Kevin Galloway scored eight points.

The Evessa shot 19-for-59 from the field.

Lakestars 89, Cinq Rees 86

In Ome, Tokyo Prefecture, Brandon Fields’ 14-point, nine-assist performance helped Shiga rally for a narrow victory over the hosts.

Dionisio Gomez scored 20 points and Shelton Colwell and Marshall Brown both had 19 for the Lakestars (20-17), who have won 20 or more games for five consecutive seasons.

Shiga trailed 70-58 after three quarters, then put 31 points on the board in the final stanza.

Tokyo (10-25) was 13-for-27 at the free-throw line. Ricky Woods had 24 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and Yuji Ide drained five 3s in a 23-point night. Takuro Ito sank 4 of 6 3s and scored a season-high 16 points, while Edward Morris had 11 points. Center Anthony Stover chipped in with five blocked shots.

Crane Thunders 91, 89ers 87

In Ota, Gunma Prefecture, Carlos Dixon secured the victory for the hosts at the free-throw line.

Dixon converted 14 of 16 foul shots, finishing with a game-best 31 points and Kenya Tomori scored 16 points for Gunma (8-27). Shingo Okada poured in 12 points and Dillion Sneed had nine points and 16 rebounds.

Newcomer DeAngelo Hamilton was Sendai’s top scorer with 22 points on 9-for-11 shooting in his fifth game with the club. Travele Jones had 17 points for the 89ers (16-19), Dzaflo Laraki scored 12, Yasuaki Arai had 11 and Wendell White 10.

B-Corsairs 72, Brave Warriors 69

In Okaya, Nagano Prefecture, Yokohama’s shooting numbers were mediocre in all areas — 3-point attempts (21.4 percent), inside the arc (39.7) and at the free-throw line (58.6) — but the defending champions crashed the boards with reckless abandon to eke out a win.

When it was over, the stat sheet showed these rebounding totals: Yokohama 65, Shinshu 39. What’s more, the B-Corsairs had 34 offensive rebounds and held the hosts to 15.

Michigan State alum Marquise Gray had team-high totals in points (20) and rebounds (12) for Yokohama. Omar Reed contributed 14 points, 11 boards and six assists, while Marcus Simmons scored 11 points and Masayuki Kabaya had nine. Yosuke Maeda matched his season high with eight points.

For the Brave Warriors (22-13), Xavier Gibson delivered 25 points and six blocked shots and Jeff Parmer had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Patrick Sanders scored 15 points and Yosuke Saito had nine.

After the game, Reed tweeted, “Proud of my team tonight … saw a fight and execution in the clutch that we haven’t had … was a good win.”

Big Bulls 69, Albirex BB 66

In Niigata, Lawrence Blacklege’s 26-point, nine-rebound, three-block effort sparked Iwate.

The Marquette University product also contributed two steals and two assists in nearly 37 action-packed minutes on the court against Niigata.

The Big Bulls (26-9 overall) improved to 12-3 in road games.

Iwate’s Kenichi Takahashi added 11 points and five assists and backcourt mate Tsubasa Yonamine had nine points and five assists. Scootie Randall and Gyno Pomare both netted 10 points for the out-of-towners.

Rodney Webb paced the Albirex (23-14) with 17 points and 11 rebounds and Thomas Kennedy scored 16 points. Yuichi Ikeda finished with 11 points.

Five Arrows 95, Bambitious 63

In Takamatsu, the Five Arrows took a 22-point lead into halftime en route to a runaway victory over Nara.
Game stats were unavailable at press time.