Drake Watanabe helps Roosevelt secure state berth, reach OIA final in D-II

Kaimuki forced overtime before Roosevelt pulled out the win to advance to the OIA D-II final. Photo by Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser.

Drake Watanabe poured in 20 points as Roosevelt escaped with a 61-54 overtime win over Kaimuki to secure a Division II state-tournament berth on Wednesday night.

Freshman Kayman Lewis added 12 points, including the go-ahead 3 in the extra period, and Logan Quinlan tallied 14 points for Roosevelt (11-7). Center Kaulana Koki manned the key with nine points and six rebounds. The Rough Riders advanced to the final of the OIA D-II playoffs and will meet McKinley for the title.

“Kaimuki’s really tough. I don’t think we had our best game tonight, though,” said Watanabe, a sophomore. “We kept rushing. Our coach kept telling us to slow down, slow down.”

Roosevelt coach Steve Hathaway recovered from an illness that knocked him off his feet recently. The wild fourth quarter, when Kaimuki went on a 16-7 run to take the lead, wasn’t what the doctor ordered for the longtime coach.

“Kaimuki played hard. Oh my God, they played hard. I told our guys, we can’t take them for granted. We played our style for awhile, then we played their style, up and down, and we got out of control,” he said. “When we play our way, we play fine, but they gave me a heart attack in that game.”

Junior guard TJ Lucas led Kaimuki (7-15) with 15 points and eight rebounds. Malu Cleveland scored six of his 14 points during Kaimuki’s big comeback in the fourth quarter, and Rashawn Fritz-Betiru added 10 points, including two treys during the rally.

Kaimuki coach Greydon Espinda saw his squad play one of its best games of the season. All they wanted was a chance, and they got it.

“We just came up short. We had our opportunities to win in regulation,” Espinda said. “It’s been the kind of season where we never played with a full deck of cards. Injuries. Trips. But the kids played hard tonight and that’s all I can ask. Hat’s off to Roosevelt. They played great.”

The Rough Riders led by as many as 12 in the first half and was up 39-31 after three quarters. Kaimuki’s scrappy defense spurred a comeback that left Roosevelt’s crowd silent.

A tough layup in traffic by Cleveland gave the visitors a 47-46 lead with 2:02 left in regulation.

Lewis sank three free throws in a 16-second span to push Roosevelt ahead 48-47 with 1:31 remaining.

Moments later, Fritz-Betiru splashed a corner 3 to give Kaimuki a 50-49 edge with 1:19 to go. After Lucas sank two foul shots with 46 ticks left, the Bulldogs had a 52-49 lead.

Roosevelt then got an and-1 drive by Quinlan. His foul shot with 37 seconds left tied it at 52, saving the day for the Rough Riders. Kaimuki had three shots in the final seconds, including an open 3 from the right corner for Lucas, but couldn’t sink one.

“We got lucky,” Hathaway said.

The game went into overtime tied at 52. That’s when the freshman, Lewis, connected on a 3 from the right wing. His first and only trey of the game opened the lead to three.

To Hathaway’s chagrin, the young Rough Riders continued to jack up quick long-range shots, going 0-for-4 from the arc.

“I don’t know why we were shooting the 3,” Hathaway said.

That allowed the Bulldogs to cut the lead to 55-54 on Koby Moananu’s lefty layup with 58 seconds to go in OT.

Lewis then hit one of two free throws with 1:36 left. After Moananu missed two foul shots with 33 seconds left, Kaimuki got no closer.

Watanabe swished two free throws for a 58-54 lead with 40 seconds to go. Lewis added there more foul shots in the final 26.8 seconds for the final margin of victory.

Roosevelt stuck with its 2-3 matchup zone, extending one guard to halfcourt, from start to finish. Kaimuki shot 4-for-18 (22 percent) from the arc.

Hathaway is happy for his team, but game management and situational work is a must before the state tourney.

“We kept telling them, ‘We don’t need to shoot. We have the lead.’ We have good free-throw shooters, but we’re young. We have some freshmen playing in the rotation. That’s the thing with a young team we’ve got to fix. They don’t realize the situation of the game. These guys, the patience is not there,” Hathaway said. “I have great shooters, and they know they have the green light, but not at that time. They’ve got to take the ball out.”

The Rough Riders are expecting a thorough session of scrutiny when they examine the game video soon.

“We made plenty of mistakes,” Lewis said. “Coach will point out all of them. We’ll learn and come back from it.”

Kaimuki’s season had some notable moments even in defeat. The Bulldogs battled Kahuku tough in a 70-61 home loss. They also gave Roosevelt a scare during the regular season in a 66-60 home loss. At home again against Kalaheo, the Bulldogs came just short, 71-67.

The Bulldogs closed the regular season with wins over Castle and Anuenue, then ousted Waipahu 61-50 in the first round of the OIA D-II playoffs on Tuesday. There is plenty of potential for next season.

“I love how our team, we played as one,” Lucas said. “How we were hitting shots. We didn’t get as many calls as the other team, and we didn’t play great defense.”

OIA Playoffs

Updated: Feb. 12
First round
2/4Kapolei (W4)Kailua (E5)Kapo, 34-31
2/4Moanalua (E3)Campbell (W6)Moan, 56-34
2/4Radford (W3)Kalani (E6)Rad, 52-41
2/4Kaiser (E4)Pearl City (W5)Kais, 59-38
2/5Kalaheo (E1)KapoleiKalh, 60-39
2/5Mililani (W2)MoanaluaMoan, 73-48
2/5Kahuku (E2)RadfordKah, 69-43
2/5Leilehua (W1)KaiserLei, 40-39
Consolation semifinals—At Higher Seed
2/10MililaniKapoleiKapo, 41-40
2/10RadfordKaiserKais, 55-27
Semifinals — At McKinley
2/10KalaheoMoanaluaMoan, 59-51
2/10KahukuLeilehuaKah, 59-58
Fifth place—At Higher Seed
2/12KapoleiKaiserKais, 39-33
Third place—At Higher Seed
2/12LeilehuaKalaheoLei, 63-50
Championship — At McKinley
2/12MoanaluaKahukuMoan, 56-48
2/4Waipahu (W2)Kaimuki (E3)Kaim, 61-50
2/4McKinley (E2)Waialua (W3)McK, 54-33
2/5Roosevelt (E1)KaimukiRoos, 61-54 (OT)
2/5Nanakuli (W1)McKinleyMcK, 40-23
Championship— At McKinley
2/12RooseveltMcKinleyRoos, 43-41
* — @ Roosevelt


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