Hoopbook: A Super Sunday for hoop lifers, Ng brothers

Titus Liu, Matt Reisert, Kawena Fernandez, Jett Tanuvasa, Konner Uratsuka and Kameron Ng basked in senior-night festivities after St. Francis defeated Mid-Pacific. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser.

Super Bowl Sunday is upon America.

It is a Sunday, though, that won’t be super for the Ng brothers without another workout. Kameron and Kordel Ng will head to the gym at St. Francis after the Bowl of Superness. They do it all season, spending Sunday afternoon working on their games, a life of basketball year-round, almost entirely seven days a week.

“We’ll be here Sunday,” said their father and Saints assistant coach Kekoa Ng. “If not, they get antsy. If they don’t get a workout, they get the shakes.”

If you’re a hoophead who grew up on the game, showed up at the court at your local park or gym every day possible, rain or shine, empty or full of players, with or without your friends, playing until the lights went on, and sometimes far beyond into the night — Coach Ng’s words ring a bell.

In a culture where more and more parents coddle their children — and deflect any accountability because Junior is perfect and coach needs to stop expecting accountability — the Ng brothers want the daily reps. The daily workout. The running. The weight room. The correction.

The byproduct is no surprise. St. Francis, one of the smallest schools in the state, is ranked No. 7 through all the challenges of the boys basketball season. Kameron Ng is averaging 25 points per game, even on an ankle that hasn’t healed fully from injury. Kordel Ng is at 18 points per game, but was at 25 ppg during his brother’s three-week injury recovery stretch.

For the hoopsters who talk about work ethic and spend their free time mastering Fortnite, some are already done for the season. Some are about to be done. And many will be wondering what could’ve happened with a few less hours of virtual games and a few thousand more hours of reps.

Support for Farrington’s Leopoldo
Kenneth Tangjian has been around the game for ages, both as a high school assistant coach and club coach.

As an assistant to Kapolei head coach Gary Ellison, his voice is sometimes booming, sometimes nurturing. The Hurricanes finished the OIA West season 12-0, upping their regular-season streak to 32 consecutive wins.

For a minute on Saturday, however, Tangjian’s thoughts were with Steven Leopoldo. The longtime Farrington coach, first with the girls, and now the boys, has not coached the last three games for the Governors as administrators look into a complaint filed by a player’s parent. His son, Bryson, has filled in as interim head coach.

“I know Steven. His character is top of the line, as well as his coaching,” Tangjian said. “He’s there for all his players. I’ve seen it. The bottom line is he’s there for the student-athlete, but some parents don’t understand the old-school method. I feel sorry for Steven.”

Farrington went 8-3 in the OIA East, knocking off three Top 10 teams while winning its first seven games. The Govs have a first-round bye in the OIA Division II playoffs and will meet the Waianae-Kaimuki winner in the semifinal round on Wednesday.

No basketball parking at Maryknoll
The Maryknoll Spartans, ranked No. 1 in the Star-Advertiser Boys Basketball Top 10, was scheduled to host Kamehameha on Saturday afternoon. Instead, the game was moved to Kekuhaupio Gymnasium because of the Punahou Carnival. Or rather, the undeniable revenue force that comes with parking.

The parking lot at Maryknoll becomes a cash cow this time of year as the Punahou Carnival directly across the street is filled from one end to the other with a massive amount of people. From 11 a.m. to closing on Friday and Saturday, at a conservative estimate of roughly 600 cars per day, at $15 per car, the school stands to gain $9,000 or so per day. And the Carnival doesn’t end until Sunday.

So the No. 1 Spartans hit the road and went to Kamehameha for a game that had no bearing in the ILH standings for Maryknoll. Kamehameha, one of the youngest teams in the state, is battling for a higher seed in the upcoming playoffs. The visiting Spartans pulled out a 40-33 win.

Makoto Kamata led Maryknoll with 17 points, hitting 8-for-10 at the free-throw line. Kalai Akaka added 14 points (6-for-8 FT). The Spartans shot 16-for-21 at the foul line (76 percent).

Maryknoll is finished league play 11-1, an almost unfathomable feat in a conference with more parity than in most seasons. Once again, Kamehameha and coach Larry Park are proving to be a thorn in the Spartans’ side. Maryknoll scored at least 51 points in each of their last seven games with one exception, a 37-18 win over MPI. Tonight’s 40-point output was Maryknoll’s lowest since Jan. 10, a 34-33 loss to Kamehameha.

“They’re very precise in what they’re trying to do. Taking a minute off every time they come down the floor. We were stopping them and they weren’t able to get shots, and they’d pull the ball out and start again, so that was counterproductive for us,” Maryknoll coach Kelly Grant said. “We want a faster tempo. So in the second half, we pressed a little bit here and there, try and take the ball out of the hands of Christmas (Togiai).”

Togiai, having a stellar season as a point guard who can play any position on both ends, finished with 10 points for the Warriors.

Grant’s has an acute memory going back to his days as a player for Tony Sellitto, when the Spartans mastered the game while practicing on the asphalt court next to the freeway. Their zone offense has been efficient most nights, but the Warriors might have the best zone defense in the league.

“We did have 17 turnovers. Our first seven possessions, we took one shot. They played a basic 2-3 zone and we weren’t using our keys. We have to be able to look guys off,” Grant said.

Sooner or later, Grant added, Park and the Warriors will run the trademark, unpredictable fullcourt man-to-man defense and traps that were a deadly weapon during the Jim Winchester era.

“Coach Larry’s not doing what he really wants to do. He’s doing it based on personnel. The next few years, he’ll run the stuff he wants to do. And their lower levels are really good, a lot of talent. That talent goes all the way down to the sixth grade level at Kamehameha,” Grant said.

Maryknoll has a state-tournament berth sealed and has an opening-round bye in the ILH playoffs. The Spartans will host either fourth seed St. Francis or fifth seed… Saint Louis (3-8). If Saint Louis loses to Punahou on Monday, it would be in a tie with Mid-Pacific (3-9); the teams split their two regular-season games. If Saint Louis loses to Punahou and Kamehameha (2-9) upsets ‘Iolani, there would be a three-way tie for fifth.


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