Down their most experienced player, the McKinley Tigers left nothing to chance.
Caleb Coperning tied the game at 61 with a tough drive, and sophomore Frank Camacho‘s pull-up J in the lane gave the Tigers the lead for good with less than a minute left in a 63-61 win over University on Friday night in the Hawaii Self Storage McKinley Black and Gold Classic.
With senior guard Kyle Moraga sidelined on Friday nights for personal reasons, the Tigers had to step up. Camacho finished with a career-high 21 points and Coperning added 13.
“For us, it’s good to play in these kinds of games. It’s a lot of pressure and we have to learn how to finish,” Tigers coach Duane Omori said. “We’re fortunate that Caleb and Frank are good one-on-one players.”
Omori was a bit surprised to hear that Camacho finished with 21 points.
“He has a nice little mid-range game and a nice spin move,” Omori said. “We just need a little more investment on defense.”
Swingman Otto Taylor and center Leif Fautanu led the Jr. ‘Bows with 22 points each.
Coperning had a chance to put the game out of reach with 8.5 seconds left, but he missed the front of a 1-and-1. ULS rebounded and called time out with 5.3 ticks left. Colby Chun caught the inbounds pass and squeezed around a sideline trap, but his open layup at the buzzer missed.
“Hats off to McKinley. They shot well and moved the ball,” first-year varsity head coach Ryan Tong said. “We’ve got to be more disciplined.”
Another key contributor for McKinley was point guard Yashu Lanki, whose stellar ball protection allowed Coperning and Camacho to attack the rim. Lanki scored just five points, but he swished a clutch wing 3 in the fourth quarter.
“For him to manage the game, manage the pace and know when to push the ball, he did a good job,” Omori added. “But as a team, there’s a lot we’ve got to do.”
McKinley will host Maryknoll on Saturday, 5:30 p.m. University will battle Kapolei in a 1 p.m. matchup.