Hoopbook: A fine time at the free-throw line

Sacred Hearts senior Dallas Martinez is shooting 85 percent from the free-throw line in ILH play. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Kawika Lee scored 16 points against Mid-Pacific, helping ‘Iolani rally from an 11-0 deficit. He knocked down three 3-pointers, but also shot 1-for-5 at the free-throw line. Unless he took 15 3-point attempts, he shot a better percentage under duress from the arc than he did at the foul line. Some shooters are better in motion.

Sam Wheeler, in that same game at Mills Gymnasium, shot 7-for-8 from the charity stripe to boost the Raiders. I learned recently that he is not related in any way to former MPI boys basketball coach Bill Wheeler.

Also above 80 percent at the foul line: Frank Felix, who made five of his six tries against MPI. He was unconscious against Maryknoll in the previous game with seven treys, but the Owls smothered him in this one.

Perfection at the foul line was had by MPI senior guard Colin Ramos, who scored 19 points, hit three treys and was 8-for-8 at the line. That is also known as 100 percent.

Speaking of FT excellence, Maryknoll followed up its 31-for-34 performance against ‘Iolani with a 30-for-43 showing at Saint Louis. Kalai Akaka was nearly perfect at 8-for-9. He’s the guy Coach Kelly Grant trusts when there are technical-foul shots to take.

Also above 80 percent: Max Wiemken of Hawaii Baptist, who returned from an illness to score 24 points with 5-for-6 shooting at the foul line in a win over Le Jardin. Side note: sharpshooter Justin Ishida, who made eight treys in HBA’s previous game, connected on four trifectas against LJA.

Paige Ralph. Waianae. Nine for 10 at the foul line in a 31-point night against Waipahu. Free-throw shooting isn’t everything, but it can tell us a lot. Nobody gets lucky and hits 90 percent on 10 attempts. That’s skill.

Gold stars for these gym rats:
> Dallas Martinez, Sacred Hearts, who is shooting 85 percent at the line (35-for-41) in ILH play.
> Kalina Obrey of Kamehameha is hitting foul shots at an 80 percent (51-for-64) clip.
> Alexis Dang (13 for 14) and Sasha Phillip (16-for-18) of HBA haven’t taken a lot of FTs in ILH games, but that combined 29-for-32 shooting is nearly 91 percent. That’s Stephen Curry territory.

Wild fire
The initial reaction on the Kona Coast to Konawaena’s 55-47 overtime loss at Parker a week ago was, generally, shock and dismay. But let’s look at the basic numbers. Simplify and see more clearly, Wildcat fans.

Coming into the Parker game, the young Wildcats had already upset Kahuku at the Ka‘apuni Invitational on Maui. They won six of their first seven preseason games. Then came loses to Hilo and Keaau. The ‘Cats seemed to right the ship with wins over Honokaa and Pahoa and were 8-3 overall before the 52-mile drive to Thelma Parker Gym.

Of those eight wins, Konawaena’s point margins were: 20, 15, 6, 3, 4, 16, 7, 7. The three losses to Baldwin, Hilo and Keaau: -6, -8, -4. Note this: The 20-point win was against Hilo (75-55), and when they met again two weeks later, Kona eked out a 46-42 win. When they met a third time, the Vikings won 65-57.

In all, eight of the Wildcats’ 11 games before Parker were decided by single-digit margins. That’s not a sign of a dominant team. Konawaena’s average margin in those 11 games: +5.45.

What does this mean? A team that has a relatively low +/- average margin will normally revert back to the mean whether it experiences a string of wins or losses. It’s not an absolute factor, but Parker is competitive. A lot more experienced this season. A road game in the BIIF is worth a minimum of +8 points for the home team, sometimes more.

The Wildcats’ roller-coaster ride smoothed out on Wednesday with a 77-48 win at Col. Ellison Onizuka Gym. They’ve actually won three of their last four games. Next is a road trip down south to Ka‘u, another dangerous D-II team.

Fighting Tigers
The Lady Tigers of McKinley battled to the end. Needing a win over powerhouse Kalani in the regular-season finale to have a chance at a playoff spot, McKinley got 19 points from Colby Lane, who made five treys, but it wasn’t enough as Kalani pulled out a 51-44 win.

The Lady Falcons were at full strength and got 16 points, 11 rebounds from Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole. As outstanding as Kalani is, McKinley was fighting to keep their season alive. The season is now over for the Tigers and their scrappy, undersized squad that included point guard Cheenie Melgazo, Cerina Noh and Raychelle Tavai, gunner Nicole Venzon and football quarterback/basketball forward Alexandria Buchanan.

Losing a close game to the potential OIA D-I champion, Kalani — it was a 36-35 lead for the Falcons after three quarters — may not seem like any sort of consolation. But the Tigers went down fighting against one of the state’s best teams. That might say more than any season-ending playoff loss.

And finally…
Showdown Thursday? Yes, yes. Konawaena heads to Waiakea for a key BIIF matchup. A win by Waiakea over unbeaten (in league play) Konawaena would throw the BIIF D-I standings into a tizzy at the top.

Konawaena, three-time defending state champion, is much younger this season. Learning on the job. They haven’t had a day like this yet in the 2018-19 season. Wake up early, 6:30 a.m., for school. Leave campus in early or mid afternoon for the 2.5-hour bus ride to Waiakea. After the game, get back on the bus and return to Konawaena sometime around 11 or 11:30 p.m.

That’s not the only clash of titans. No. 4 Maryknoll, led by slashing scorer Jalen Tanuvasa, walks across the street to play No. 8 Punahou in a 5 p.m. game at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

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