Another tight thriller between Kamehameha and St. Francis.
Another close win for the Division I Warriors. With hot perimeter shooting by Laamea Frank — 7-for-8 from the arc for 21 points — and a dogged effort in the paint by Kobe Young and Kamren Victorino-Kato, Kamehameha escaped with a 71-66 win over D-II St. Francis on Friday night.
The 6-foot-6 Young, providing strength in the post, finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. Victorino-Kato had a team-high 22 points, hustling for three offensive boards and three putbacks during a pivotal third quarter. The story, though, was the confident shooting of Frank.
“He’s always had a shot. I tell him if he’s open to keep shooting,’ Victorino-Kato said.
“Mea kept us in the game,” Warriors coach Greg Tacon said. “He had his feet set and every shot was in rhythm. They were about to run away and hide from us. It was wild and wooly, then it became an ILH game in the fourth quarter.”
Kamehameha advanced to the final of the Surfrider Holiday Classic, overcoming a 33-point effort by Saints guard Kameron Ng. The senior shot 7-for-10 from long range in the first three quarters, but was 0-for-3 from deep in the final stanza.
Ng swished four 3-pointers in the opening quarter, including two from NBA range. The defending state champions in D-II led 17-7 five minutes into the contest.
“Kameron was ridiculous. We tried 19 guys on him,” Tacon said, slightly exaggerating.
“Kam is unbelievable,” Victorino-Kato said. “I think he dropped 40.”
The good news for Kamehameha was Frank, who was unconscious from long range. He made all three of his launches in the first quarter to help the Warriors rally for an 18-17 lead.
He was in zone-buster mode again in the second quarter, hitting two more treys over 1-2-2 and 2-3 sets. Kamehameha got a baseline drive and dunk by Young to tie the game at 36, and then Victorino-Kato drove into the paint and scooped up an alley-oop pass to Young, who snuck behind the defense and threw down a two-handed hammer for a two-point lead just before the half.
The second quarter was unique for shooting percentages from the arc. The teams combined for 5-for-5 from deep — Saints 3-for-3 and Warriors 2-for-2.
St. Francis opened the second half with some lightning of its own. Kameron Ng drove off a high pick-and-roll, then lobbed the ball high to his brother, Kordell Ng, a 5-8 guard. The two-handed alley-oop slam brought roars from crowd of about 400.
The Saints regained the lead at 45-43 on two free throws by Kordell Ng with 5:55 left in the third. After he scored off a steal, they had their biggest lead of the second half, 47-43.
The Warriors, with a deeper rotation, got another 3 from Frank, and one from Mycah Pimental, and after Victorino-Kato drove for a lefty layup, they had a 51-50 lead with 3:11 to go in the third.
Kamehameha built the lead to 66-59 early in the fourth quarter. After shooting 11-for-18 from the arc in the first three periods, St. Francis shot 0-for-6 in the final quarter.
The Saints got within 66-64 on a layup by Kameron Ng with more than 2 minutes to play, but that was it. Victorino-Kato sank four shots in a row for a 70-64 lead with 35 seconds remaining.
It was a matter of timely defense for Kamehameha, and fatigue for the Saints. Unable to get consistent points in the paint, they depended largely on the Ngs for perimeter shooting and drives to the rim. Kameron shot 2-for-8 from the field in the final 8 minutes, and two air balls from deep in the final minutes indicated how much energy he spent to keep his team in the game. Kordell Ng, who tallied 16 points, took just one shot in the final quarter.
A year ago, St. Francis knocked off Kahuku in preseason, along with a close loss to Kamehameha. The Saints are designated D-II again this season, which means their opportunities to beat D-I programs is limited to nonconference play.
“We played a good three-and-a-half quarters,” coach Ron Durant said. “I don’t think we hit a shot in the final 3 minutes. The overall effort was there. We’re undersized, but we battled and hung with them. They missed all those free throws and we couldn’t convert.
Kamehameha shot 8-for-17 as a team from the charity stripe in the final quarter.
Three Saints, football players Scott McLeod, Wembley Mailei and Taka Lautaha, are playing in an all-star game on Kauai this weekend and are not at the tournament. At 6-2, 6-3 and 6-3, they would’ve helped on the boards, but it remains to be seen how much difference they would’ve made with perimeter defense.
Kamehameha shot 10-for-18 from the arc.
St. Francis will play in the third-place game on Saturday, 6 p.m. Kamehameha will play the ‘Iolani-Kailua winner in the final at 7:30 p.m.
Maui 54, Waianae 41
In consolation play, Kea Aguire scored 10 points and Effren Villon had nine to lead the Sabers. Blaze Kahikina had 14 points and Keliinoe Meyers had 12 for the Seariders.
Campbell 76, Waipahu 50
Mitchell Williams poured in 18 points, Robert Hutchinson scored 12 and Andrew Mersburgh tallied 11 for the Sabers. Daython Izay Oasay scored 11 points and Felicer Barut had 10 to pace the Marauders.