Basketball / B. League

Yuki Togashi nails clutch jumper in closing seconds to propel Jets past rival Alvark

by Ed Odeven

Staff Writer

Yuki Togashi didn’t have his best shooting game on Saturday.

It wasn’t even close to his best game.

But he kept shooting, never losing faith in his shot.

The Jets star’s confidence in his skills helped his team triumph in a down-to-the-wire game against the reigning champion Alvark.

Togashi’s floater in the lane with 2 seconds to play put Chiba ahead 59-57, and the hosts escaped with a victory after Tokyo forward Zack Baranski’s 3-pointer missed its target before the final buzzer at Funabashi Arena.

The Jets (49-8) improved to 4-1 during the regular season against their East Division rival. Four of those games have been decided by a grand total of 13 points.

Togashi was 2-for-13 from the field, finishing with six points. Former University of Connecticut big man Gavin Edwards led Chiba with 19 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. Josh Duncan contributed 10 points, Michael Parker followed with nine and Fumio Nishimura had seven.

Like Togashi, Jets guard Kosuke Ishii also struggled to score. He was held to one point and missed all five of his shots from the field. But Ishii made five steals to help limit the Alvark’s scoring chances.

Yudai Baba was the high scorer for Tokyo with 13 points. Baranski and Alex Kirk both had 11. Joji Takeuchi and Kirk shared the team lead in rebounds (10). Seiya Ando doled out six assists for the Alvark (42-15).

In a defensive battle, both teams had limited success on 3-point attempts. The Jets made 3 of 17. The Alvark canned 3 of 14.

Lakestars 92, Diamond Dolphins 60

In Nagoya, hot-shooting Shiga jumped out to a big lead in the early going and never trailed in a runaway triumph over the hosts.

The Lakestars (18-39) won their fourth straight game.

Shiga led 38-18 after one quarter and 62-27 entering the second half.

Former NBA forward Henry Walker and Koyo Takahashi combined for 10-for-15 shooting from 3-point range to ignite the Lakestars. Allen Durham added 23 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists. Walker scored 21 points and Takahashi supplied 19. Yusuke Karino, who was 4-for-4 from long range, poured in 16 points.

Shiga drained 16 of 30 3-point attempts. Nagoya made 4 of 24.

Shuto Ando had 14 points to lead the Diamond Dolphins (30-27). Hilton Armstrong and Ryota Kobayashi each had 11 points.

Albirex BB 80, Brave Thunders 78

In Kawasaki, Niigata extended its winning streak to seven in a spirited clash of playoff-bound teams.

Davante Gardner scored nine of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and hauled in 19 rebounds while dishing out six assists for the Albirex (42-15). Yuichi Ikeda had all nine of his points in the final period, connecting on 3 of 4 3s in that span, and the visitors clinched the Central Division title.

Niigata forward Lamont Hamilton contributed 19 points and 13 boards. He scored the go-ahead basket with 14 seconds remaining courtesy of a Gardner pass. Neither team scored again.

There were 19 ties in the series opener.

Nick Fazekas paced the Brave Thunders (38-19) with 28 points and 11 rebounds. Naoto Tsuji scored 17 points and Vernon Macklin had 14, while Ryusei Shinoyama handed out seven assists.

Northern Happinets 79, Levanga 66

In Akita, the hosts snapped an 11-game losing streak by trouncing Hokkaido, which dropped its 19th in a row.

Justin Keenan sparked the Northern Happinets (16-41) with 25 points and 11 boards. Ryosuke Shirahama knocked down 4 of 6 3s in a 21-point outing. Kadeem Coleby chipped in with 14 points, nine rebounds and three blocks, while Takuya Nakayama dished out five assists.

Akita’s opportunistic defense forced 15 turnovers. The Happinets capitalized on the Levanga’s miscues, scoring 24 points off miscues.

David Doblas had a team-high 15 points and Marc Trasolini scored 14 for Hokkaido (10-47). Shusuke Yamamoto handed out 11 assists.

Brex 72, Sunrockers 61

In Tokyo, title-chasing Tochigi scored twice as many points in the paint as the hosts en route to victory in the series opener.

Igniting the Brex offense, frontcourt stalwarts Ryan Rossiter (22 points, nine rebounds) and Jeff Gibbs (15 points, 13 boards) set the tone.

Makoto Hiejima added 11 points, four assists and two steals off the bench for Tochigi (46-11), which led 39-24 at halftime. Veteran forward Kosuke Takeuchi finished with seven points and seven rebounds.

The Brex scored 44 points to Shibuya’s 22 in the lane.

Robert Sacre scored 29 points and snared 10 rebounds for the Sunrockers (27-30). Leo Vendrame had nine points and five assists, while Ryan Kelly provided eight points, 13 boards and five assists.

Evessa 66, Golden Kings 62

In Osaka, the hosts held Ryukyu to 37.7 percent shooting and 24 second-half points.

Xavier Gibson led the Evessa (22-35) with 14 points. Hiroyuki Kinoshita scored 13, Faye Pape Mour had 11 and Josh Harrellson and Satoshi Nagano both scored nine. Harrellson also pulled down 12 rebounds.

Ryuichi Kishimoto had a team-high 15 points for the Golden Kings (37-20). Takumi Ishizaki chipped in with 13 points and Kevin Jones had 11, with Shigeyuki Kinjo adding nine.

Rizing Zephyr 80, Hanaryz 74

In Kyoto, Fukuoka ended an 11-game losing streak, while the hosts suffered their fourth consecutive defeat.

Five Rizing Zephyr players reached double figures in points: Benjamin Lawson (23 with 16 rebounds), Masashi Joho (13) and Daisuke Kobayashi, Eric Jacobsen and Satoshi Ishitani (10 apiece). Ishitani had a team-high six assists.

The score was tied 39-39 at halftime. There were 14 more ties in the back-and-forth contest.

Fukuoka (12-45) outrebounded Kyoto 43-30.

David Simon led the Hannaryz (29-28) with 22 points. Tatsuya Ito had 14 points and eight assists. Forward/center Yuya Nagayoshi had 11 points in 31-plus minutes in his season debut. Nagayoshi was cleared to play this week by the Japan Basketball Association to rejoin the team after being suspended since last summer in a sex scandal (along with three other Japan national team players from the B. League) while at the Asian Games in Indonesia.

SeaHorses 91, NeoPhoenix 83

In Kariya, Aichi Prefecture, rookie Yuta Okada scored a game-high 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting and Kennedy Meeks poured in 23 points as Mikawa outplayed San-en.

Meeks, a member of the University of North Carolina’s 2017 NCAA championship squad, added nine rebounds and five assists in the series opener.

Isaac Butts chipped in with 13 points and 10 boards, J.R. Sakuragi had 12 points and Ko Kumagai added 10 for the SeaHorses (30-27).

Mikawa outrebounded the visitors 37-23, including 13-4 on the offensive glass.

Cedric Simmons paced the NeoPhoenix (22-35) with 20 points, while William McDonald had 16 and Hayato Kawashima 11 with seven assists.

Grouses 75, B-Corsairs 72

In Yokohama, Joshua Smith’s double-double helped Toyama rally from a slow start as coach Don Beck’s club completed a two-game sweep of the hosts.

Smith finished with game-high totals in points (23) and rebounds (10). Leo Lyons added 22 points and six assists. Tomokazu Abe scored 10 points, while Naoki Uto had nine points, nine boards and six assists for the Grouses (30-28).

The B-Corsairs (14-44) led 22-9 after the opening quarter and 41-24 at halftime.

Arthur Stepheson led Yokohama with 25 points and 19 rebounds. Takuya Kawamura and Brandon Costner scored 15 and 12 points, respectively.

Second-division update

Saturday’s B2 scores:

Storks 87, Bee Trains 75

Brave Warriors 78, Fighting Eagles 60

Crane Thunders 80, 89ers 64

Volters 88, Five Arrows 81

Robots 73, Wat’s 60

Wyverns 101, Firebonds 89

Earthfriends 95, Samuraiz 82

Bambitious 88, Dragonflies 80

Susanoo Magic 88, Orange Vikings 75