Govs, Tigers remove the lid from the basket

Farrington's Pono Kakalia scores against McKinley  on Saturday. Star-Advertiser photo by Krystle Marcellus
Farrington’s Pono Kakalia scores against McKinley on Saturday. Star-Advertiser photo by Krystle Marcellus

Some games, there’s a lid on the basket.

Not so on Saturday night at the McKinley gym, where visiting Farrington took over a close game in the fourth quarter for a 64-56 win. Shots were falling in all night.

The Govs’ Jake Smith fired up four successful 3-point bombs and added some weaving drives during a 24-point night.

For the Tigers, Macjun Otarra delivered his patented and poisonous jumpers and finished with a game-high 28 points. For a long stretch, Otarra couldn’t miss.

“They have excellent shooters,” Farrington coach Allan Silva said about Otarra and his Tigers counterpart, Dan Villejo, who made four 3-pointers among his 19 points.

Otarra was uncanny in the way he picked his spots to shoot, seemingly always open for a pass between 12 and 16 feet on the baseline. If he started to get covered on the left, he moved to the right.

“I wasn’t sure I was ready,” said Otarra, who hurt his hip in practice during the week. “I didn’t think I was going to have the feeling of rhythm to shoot.”

Why worry? The hip, obviously, didn’t bother him much.

“He’s a leader and we like for him to catch and shoot and he did a great job of that tonight,” McKinley coach Duane Omori. “If he doesn’t receive a fast-break pass, we tell him to set up on the baseline.

“All the (McKinley and Farrington) players know each other and were expecting a good game. It was on TV (Oceanic XCast), so it was all set up for them. We battled for three quarters and let it slip.”

With the win, the Governors (4-3) pulled ahead of the Tigers (3-4) in the middle of the OIA East standings.

Omori said Farrington’s “physicality” made a difference at the end. Bryce Tatupu-Leopoldo and Tua Unotoa worked to control the boards for the Governors.

The Tigers also struggled with the athletic play of Govs guard Ranan Mamiya, who scored 13 points off of his driving ability.

“Our help defense was awful tonight,” Omori said. “Mamiya is so damn quick that he can get around almost anyone and so his man defender needed support but it didn’t come. We were lazy in that area.”

Mamiya may have turned the game’s final tide. Holding a slim 54-51 lead with under two minutes to go, Mamiya had possession and was about to drive until he heard coach Silva ask him to bring it back a little more toward halfcout.

And so he did it. Then, after about four or five stationary dribbles, Mamiya took off for the basket and dropped it in off the glass. If he didn’t have to dribble and the hard court was turf, fans may have mistaken the basketball guard for the elusive football running back who made the Star-Advertiser’s All-State team last fall.

That play made it 56-51 and Smith followed it up by grooving to the hoop for a 3-point play to pretty much put a wrap on it at 59-51 with 1:34 to go.

The Govs went 11-for-12 from the line in the final period to hold off the Tigers.

“We are playing like we were a month and a half ago,” Silva said. “We have that focus and intensity and we’re playing as a team.”

Mamiya concurred.

“We came out with energy and played as a team,” he said. “We always want to finish strong and we did.”

Farrington led most of the game, but McKinley took a 44-43 lead after three quarters and kept it close until the Govs’ final flourish.

“We were up by one and then fell behind,” the Tigers’ Omori said. “Some of it was due to our inexperienced players trying to press a little bit and maybe they got nervous.

“Farrington has a lot of experienced players. Guys like Jake Smith know what it takes to finish.”


  1. A Fan January 26, 2015 9:20 am

    Such a well written article! Great job Nick!

  2. Nick Abramo January 26, 2015 12:03 pm

    thank you very much!

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