Crusaders race from banquet to victory

Saint Louis forward Noa Purcell puts up a shot between Roosevelt forwards Lio Ilalio, left, and Juan Alvarez. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

It was messy and it was gritty.

Saint Louis will take the win every time, and it never has to be pretty. Noa Purcell, arriving straight from the football team’s banquet, powered his way to the hoop and scored 23 points as the Crusaders edged Roosevelt 56-53 on the final day of the OIA-ILH Challenge at Moanalua High School gym.

Trailing 54-53, Roosevelt had a chance to take the lead with 12 seconds left, but Jared Elwin — who had swished three foul shots just moments earlier — missed the front side of a 1-and-1.

Saint Louis sophomore guard Isaac Silva then swished two free throws with 8.5 seconds left, extending the lead to three points. Roosevelt never got a shot up after that. Purcell, showing ill effects of a heavy lunch, was light on his feet and stole an inbounds pass with 4.5 seconds left, and the Crusaders ran out the clock.

Purcell, a powerful 5-foot-10 senior linebacker on the gridiron, was 12-for-13 from the foul line and seems to have his basketball legs back after a long football campaign. The Crusaders won the state title three weeks ago, and that was followed by all-star games the past two weekends. Saint Louis (3-4) had lost its previous two games in the tournament to Moanalua and Kahuku.

“We played a little smarter. It was a difficult start. I thought we would have only four or five players because of the football banquet,” Crusaders coach Sol Batoon said. “In the second quarter, we got it going.”

Roosevelt (4-3) got 23 points from junior guard Micah Visoria, who scored 14 in the first half, but was held scoreless in the final quarter. Kapono Campos and center Lio Ilalio added 10 points each.

The Rough Riders led 10-3, but the Crusaders rallied to tie the game at 13 shortly before the end of the first quarter. Roosevelt went on a 14-6 run to open a 43-32 lead in the third quarter, but unforced turnovers gave Purcell and his teammates plenty of opportunities to chip away.

Saint Louis went on an 11-0 run to tie the game before Visoria hit a foul shot, and Roosevelt led 44-43 entering the final quarter. The Crusaders led 54-50 when Jared Elwin was fouled at the 3-point arc. He swished all three shots to cut the lead to one point with 12 seconds remaining.

Roosevelt went 1-2 in the tournament, just one week after winning the Keaau-Waiakea tournament. Saint Louis has some momentum and lots of reps ahead at practice before the ILH regular season begins.

“Theres a lot of things we’ve got to fix,” Batoon said. “We’re an inexperienced team with a lot of hustle.

Silva, the young point guard, added 10 points.

“He’s learning. What I like about him is he’s not afraid to take charge,” Batoon said.

Their 6-5 wings, Jalen Smith and Chris Sykes, combined for seven points. Both made up for the scoring shortage by protecting the rim.

“Jalen is a good player. It’ll take him a little while to get our system down. We play inside-out,” Batoon said. “Chris played well and Noa, Noa was consistent.”

Net notes: Kahuku’s talented (Western Kentucky-bound) 6-10 senior, Tolu Smith, is not playing the tournament. He’s in a walking boot. It’s the same for Leilehua’s 6-6 senior, Liam Fitzgerald, walking in a boot.

OIA-ILH Challenge
Thursday’s scores

Roosevelt 55, Mid-Pacific 41
‘Iolani 51, Leilehua 32
Kamehameha 61, Kahuku 33
Moanalua 65, Saint Louis 46

Friday’s scores
Kamehameha 69, Leilehua 58, OT
Mid-Pacific 52, Moanalua 50
‘Iolani 58, Roosevelt 45
Kahuku 54, Saint Louis 47

Saturday’s games
Saint Louis 56, Roosevelt 53
Kahuku vs. ‘Iolani
Leilehua vs. Mid-Pacific
Moanalua vs. Kamehameha


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