For girls, starting with Okagakuen High School and Gifu Girls, the last year’s top four were in the same block A combination lottery for the Winter Cup, a tournament that decides the best high school basketball in Japan, which will start on December 23, has been announced.
Every year, a strong school hits at an early stage or concentrates on the same block and the result called “death group” comes out to some extent. In last year’s tournament, Kaishi Kokusai hit Fukuoka University Ohori in the first match, and Fukuoka Daiichi hit Hokuriku Gakuin in the first match. Among girls, Yakumo Gakuen and Seika Girls are clashing in the first round. Even in 2018, when there were 50 participating schools and many teams appeared from the second round, Fukuoka Daiichi entered a tough group that hits Higashiyama and then Hiryu in the first round, and won the championship.
However, there are more surprising combinations this year than usual. Since last year, the number of participating schools has increased to 60, and the number of seed slots that do not compete in the first round is only four. In addition, the Inter-High has been canceled this year, and the top two teams have not been seeded. As a result, the men’s Fukuoka Daiichi, Ohori, Higashiyama, Hokuriku and Women’s Sakurako Gakuen, Gifu Girls, Osaka Kaoru Eijo Gakuin, and Kyoto Seika Gakuen, who advanced to the top four of last year’s tournament, will all appear from the first round.
For boys, Hokuriku and Chubudaigaku Daiichi collide in the first round, and Ohori, Higashiyama, and Hiryu hit the third round. For girls, all four of last year’s top four were in the left block of the tournament table. Sakuraka Gakuen, which has won 22 times in this tournament, may hit Osaka Kun’ei Jogakuin with Kyoto Seika and Kaishi Kokusai by the quarterfinal, and will also win the semifinal with its biggest rival, Gifu Girls.
With less than a month before the opening and the combination decided, the team-building of each participating school will start to finish. Although the new coronavirus is starting to rage again, I hope that each team can fight the first and last national tournament without regrets.