The OIA East race got a little tighter on Friday night.
It’s Farrington, playing its best basketball of the young season, that is causing more headaches for boys basketball coaches. The Governors continued their home-court roll, stunning No. 9 Kalaheo 70-68. Raefe McEnroe led the way again with 24 points, and post scorer Christian Havea added 12.
Farrington is slotted in Division II, but until the playoffs begin, the Governors are proving to be as dangerous as any team out East. Kalaheo, one of the contenders for the OIA D-I title, may seem middling on paper with a 10-10 overall record, but eight of those losses were to Top 10 teams. In fact, No. 1 Punahou’s two closest games aside from an early loss to Damien were with Kalaheo. The Buffanblu escaped with an 81-79 win at the OIA-ILH Challenge on Dec. 7, and they pulled out a 77-71 win on Dec. 21 at the Punahou Invitational.
Meanwhile, Farrington was a middling 5-6 in preseason, but has turned up another gear since. The Governors are 3-0 in OIA East play, notching wins over Top 10 foes Moanalua, and now Kalaheo. In the East, nearly every team has experience plus talent. Six of the seven teams will qualify for the playoffs, but only two will earn a first-round bye.
That’s why Farrington can throw a wrench into any team’s hopes and plans. Kalani has emerged at 3-0 to take a half-game lead on Kailua (2-0). The Falcons have done it quietly, but a 61-42 win over Roosevelt on Friday caused a splash. Kalani was was 7-3 in preseason, losing only to Kamehameha, Leilehua and Kapolei. During their current five-game win streak. The average margin of victory during this run: 17 points.
Next on the schedule for Kalani: home games against Anuenue on Wednesday and Moanalua on Friday.
Kailua (10-8 overall) set the tone with a 58-52 win at Kahuku last week. The deep, talented Surfriders are tough to stop in the paint with 6-6 Isaiah Hopson and athletic wings Lydell Romero and Nainoa Peters. Kaniala Williams has stepped up as a key finisher. He is a lock-down defender and hits clutch free throws for Coach Walter Marciel.
Moanalua (2-1) and Roosevelt (2-1) will remain in the hunt, of course, as will Kalaheo (1-1). Kahuku (1-1) was unable to hold down home court with the loss to Kailua, but balance is there with Ethan Erickson dominating the paint and Shon Reid providing a spark from the backcourt.
McKinley (0-3), a young, rebuilding squad, took a bit of a step backward with a 74-69 road loss to D-II Kaimuki on Friday.
Kaiser has already provided problematic challenges for the East’s D-I teams. The young Cougars, relying heavily on center Cyrus Singelman, were hot and cold before the regular season. They won eight games in a row early in preseason, then hit a four-game losing skid to close nonconference play.
Sophomore Kenji Toyama has already stepped up in league play with 22 points against McKinley and 19 on Kahuku. He might become the highest-scoring Kenji in the OIA since McKinley’s Kenji Soranaka in the mid-1980s.
The Cougars, 2-1 in the East, might be the strongest challenge to Farrington for the D-II title in the OIA. A 45-43 home win over No. 10 Kahuku is their signature win so far. Next on the ledger: at Kailua on Wednesday.
>> Ramos’ career night
Even in the era of the 3-point shot, a 40-point game isn’t as common as should be. Even Pistol Pete Maravich averaged more than 44 points in each of his three collegiate seasons at LSU — which would have been 57 points in his best season if the 3-point arc had been in play.
At the prep level, 40 is 40. There are shooters who can stroke a pretty long-range shot, but few who have the motor to get open looks and impose their will upon a defense for long stretches.
John Gilbert Ramos of Waianae dropped 40 on Waialua Friday night, hitting three treys in a 75-47 win. That bumped his scoring average from 14 points per game to 17.3 overnight. The only other prep players to hit the 40-point mark so far this season are brothers Kordel Ng and Kameron Ng of St. Francis. Kordel hit the mark against Waiakea on Dec. 10 during a 75-72 overtime win.
Ng, who scored 28 in a loss to Maryknoll, is averaging 20 points per game.
The biggest single-game output has been by Kameron Ng. The senior pumped in 42 points against Leilehua, including 14-for-17 at the foul line on Nov. 21. That was before he suffered an ankle injury that he re-injured in a the loss to Maryknoll.
Active for 10 preseason games, Kameron Ng reached the 30-point mark five times. He is averaging a state-high 24 points per game.
There are consistent scorers like Everett Torres-Kahapea of Kailua and Geremy Robinson of Moanalua. Torres-Kahapea is solid at 17 points per game, and with a balanced lineup, the Surfriders don’t need huge outputs from their senior guard.
At 19 ppg, Robinson has the green light, as well, and at 6-2 has the ability to finish at the rim when he’s not launching 3s. Like Torres-Kahapea, he hasn’t hit the 30-point mark yet, but the potential for some explosive numbers is always there for the junior.
Mitchell Williams of Campbell is in a sweet spot. The 6-3 senior may be a volume shooter, but his smooth shooting stroke would be an asset for any team. Williams’ season-high was 31 against D-II Le Jardin, but he also scored 22 against the nation’s No. 1 team, Montverde Academy (Fla.).
Like Williams, Ryan Pardini of Kalaheo is averaging 16 points per game. Pardini is surrounded by scorers, which means he gets a lot of efficiency from the 3-point arc. His season-high is 24 points against No. 1 Punahou, when he splashed five 3s. His single-game high for treys is six in a win over St. Francis.
The trend tends to be non-ILH scorers when it comes to massive stats. From Hana to Waianae, Pukalani — Kamalu Segundo of Kamehameha-Maui scored 29 in a narrow win over King Kekaulike on Friday — to Pahoa, scoring kings normally have much more opportunity in any league aside from the talent-rich ILH. It’s the old proverbial scenario. Would you rather be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond?
Points alone don’t make a player great or a program a winner, but they sure give a team a chance. A dominant rebounder can completely change a team’s direction. Current San Francisco 49ers defensive end DeForest Buckner was a double-double performer as Punahou’s center during a 2012 state championship season. Who has the endurance, skill and will to do what it takes to help his or her team stay in a game? Here’s a pupule look at potential single-game numbers.
>> DiAeris McRaven, Moanalua
He has the motor, the length, the toughness to grab at least 20 rebounds in a game not just once, but multiple times. The 6-5 junior is also a volleyball player, and it shows on the basketball court.
>> Marcus Tobin, Maryknoll
The 6-7 senior has range on his shot, but is most effective in the paint. Maryknoll will see a lot of zone defense in the ILH slate, which means Tobin’s ability to find gaps and hit the 5- and 10-foot shots will be at a premium. He scored 21 points, including a few putbacks, in a win at St. Francis on Thursday. He was 9-for-14, which means if the pace allows, he could score 30 with 20 field-goal attempts if the pace allows.
That sounds almost preposterous on a team with many skilled shooters, but Tobin’s bounce and athleticism are difficult to contain even in the rugged ILH.
>> Colin Ramos, Mid-Pacific
The slashing scorer broke out last season with two big games in ILH play, including 30 points in an overtime win over Saint Louis, but defenses are very aware of him now. The Owls play at a deliberate pace, and Ramos hasn’t cracked 20 points yet this winter, but another 30-point performance would be within the spectrum.
There will be surging scorers over the next six weeks. It’s always debatable about who the best pure scorer in state history is. Sam Johnson of Moanalua? Miah Ostrowski of Punahou. ‘Iolani’s four-time all-state player of the year, Derrick Low? The list would include Alika Smith and Julian Sensley of Kalaheo (and arguably Mustangs DC Daniels and Ikaika Alama-Francis); George Puou, with the automatic 18-foot turnaround bank shot, of Kailua; Dan Hale and Ia Saipa‘ia of Punahou and on and on…
For now, every team, especially in the OIA East and ILH D-I, will be scraping and scrapping for tough wins every night. Individual gems will be secondary, but fun to track nonetheless.