From Holiday Basketball to Super APAC: How Far Have We Come?

Ira Gorawora

In the blink of an eye, the thrilling 2018-2019 basketball season has come to an end. Varsity boys and girls not only concluded the season on a high note but also made tremendous progress in building individual skills along with developing unbreakable team chemistry.

From January 24 to 27, the varsity girls were at Concordia International School Shanghai (CISS), bringing home their fourth straight APAC trophy in a tight win against Brent International School Manila (BISM), 54-52. The final game boiled down to the last 2.6 seconds, when India Soranson Way (12) drilled the mid-range jump shot to give the girls a two-point lead with about one second left to play.

“There’s nothing more gratifying than a close win,” Nikki Chen (11), one of the Varsity Girls’ captains, said. “We held our own in that last game even when the crowd was against us and we defended our title.” 

This game marked not only their second straight Super APAC Championship win, but also the varsity girls’ 42nd straight win against APAC schools.

“I'm really proud of how we stayed composed even when we were down by two in the last minute. This composure, our tenacity, and of course India's clutch finish is what ultimately gave us the edge over Brent. It was the most amazing feeling,” Selena Sun (10) added.

India said of her last APAC basketball experience, “The biggest part of winning my second Super APAC wasn’t the medal or recognition, but the sisterhood I was surrounded by. Everyone wanted us to lose, but the fact that we could stay composed and together made me realize that having a trusting and bonded team is more valuable than any victory.”

Varsity Boys after the Super APAC awards ceremony.
(Top left to right: Coach Peabody, Calvin Zau, Alec Kinsman, Sam Herrman, Ben Cherry, Charlie Grinnan, Adit Chatrath, Coach Evans; Bottom left to right: Krish Shah, Eden Hong, Ethan Alfert, Noah Leddel, Jiaqi Chen, Joshua Pak)
While our girls were in Shanghai, the varsity boys hosted Super APAC at HKIS. With teams all across Asia including schools in China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines competing, the weekend promised plenty of excitement.

On day one, our boys dominated teams in their pool, Seoul Foreign School (SFS) and United Nations International School of Hanoi (UNIS), by 60-51 and 62-43 respectively. They then defeated Shanghai American School Pudong (SASPD), Shanghai American School Puxi (SASPX), and CISS, to advance to the Super APAC finals against BISM. 

In an exhilarating game, the Dragons scored a 63-48 win over BISM to secure the championship at Super APAC. When asked about how the team triumphed in the finals, varsity boys Coach Evans responded, “Our team never gave up. Even if the opposing team made a run, we typically weathered it and responded with a run of our own. We made all the hustle plays.”

The girls’ and boys’ performance showed significant improvement since the Holiday Basketball Tournament hosted at HKIS back in November.

“After Holiday we really learned what to look for on the court, how to use our size, strength, and speed to our advantage. It was really about learning the flow and the chemistry of working together and once we had that, everything became quick, concise, and purposeful,” Nikki said. During the Holiday Tournament, the girls recall they lacked team chemistry as it was early on in the season. 

This aspect of basketball is one many consider more powerful than individual talent. Team chemistry builds trust, cooperation, and productivity, and in turn, those translate to success. 

After Holiday, the girls were able to understand each player’s traits, applying this knowledge during games. The varsity girls showed great improvement throughout a competitive season, concluding it with a Super APAC Championship and the International Schools Sports Federation Hong Kong (ISSFHK) Gold Medal.

“Our team has grown to work together, rather than individually. We have learned to build off of each other's strengths and not dwell on our mistakes,” Anna Lobner (10) said.  

Throughout the season, the boys rivaled the girls’ drive and zeal. “We lack that one superstar or go-to player, but that actually served us well. When a team isn't distracted by individual egos or burdened with high expectations, they can focus on doing whatever it takes to win,” Coach Evans said. Instead of having a Michael Jordan on the team, the varsity boys this year entered the season without the one dominant player, resulting in one of the greatest traits a sports team could possess: grit.

Krish Shah (11) echoed a similar sentiment, saying, “As a team, we probably don't have the greatest individual talent, but we work the hardest and play for each other. Just look at the fact we're the only team who always plays man defense, which requires a lot more work but was the reason we were able to slow down Brent in the final.”

The boys this year displayed their tireless mentality at every game. “After watching the team gel and seeing their character in adversity, I realized that we had a special team,” Coach Evans added. The boys started the season using their individual skills to defeat other teams and as the season progressed and Super APAC came around, they came together as a team with more intensity and passion, leading them to the success they had at Super APAC. 

HKIS looks forward to another fantastic basketball season next year.