The Saint Louis Crusaders arrived at Kekuhaupio Gymnasium cool and collected.
Confident and just one win away from celebrating an oh, so hard route to the state tourney.
The Kamehameha Warriors said, no, no, no, and won a 71-70 thriller on Tuesday night to wreck Saint Louis’ plans. Even after trailing 22-12 in the first half, Kamehameha didn’t panic. Even after allowing the Crusaders’ he-man, mighty Tristan Nichols, to power and finesse his way to 24 points, including 13 in the second quarter, plus 13 rebounds. The last time they met Saint Louis, the Warriors limited Nichols to zero points after a seven-point opening quarter, and Kamehameha won on the road.
>> Was that really a foul?
Some observers wondered aloud whether Saint Louis’ Chris Sykes actually fouled Fatu Sua-Godinet as the Kamehameha swingman shot a runner in the paint in the final seconds. I haven’t ventured into my game video yet, but it seemed that any contact occurred after the shot was taken. Legs banging — a foul? But contact is contact and a defender is required to give a shooter room to land.
Bad break for Sykes. Great break for the Warriors. Even if the foul had been determined to be after the shot, Kamehameha was in the double bonus, if I remember right. Sua-Godinet hit the second shot on a night when getting into the bonus was a major factor for Kamehameha.
>> Free-throw shooting
Greg Tacon implored his troops to quit settling for jumpers (my interpretation of Hanohono-Hashimoto’s take on his coach’s instructions) and attack the basket. Kaeler Kahana responded with drive after drive, even more so after Saint Louis baskets. Talk about 7 Seconds Or Less, I haven’t had so little time to jot down my stats since Mililani’s fastbreak football attack was in full gear with a healthy McKenzie Milton.
Kahana took just two shots in the first half and had two points at the break. After that, he scored 21 points on 6-for-7 field-goal shooting and 9-for-10 free-throw shooting. Efficiency? He finished with 23 points on nine field-goal attempts.
Kamehameha shot 24-for-31 at the foul line (77 percent).
At the other end, Saint Louis’ FT woes read like this after the first quarter: 7-for-12 (second quarter), 2-for-6 (third quarter), 3-for-8 (fourth quarter). A 20-for-34 night doesn’t sound too bad (59 percent), but that 12-for-26 in the final three quarters spelled doom. Nichols was 5-for-14 at the line. Make two more and, and, and…
The Crusaders had just six turnovers entering the final quarter. Then came an avalanche of eight giveaways. Kamehameha had just one turnover in the final 8 minutes and 11 for the game.
>> Now what?
Saint Louis coach Allan Silva says that his team has “got to win on Thursday against Punahou. I want them to play the game they can play.”
For what it’s worth, margins do add up to something measurable. No, not that a 30-point win makes any team in the ILH that much better but for a single night. But teams are winning and losing by mostly narrow margins. The odds of any team going 8-2 in this league were remote, let alone 9-1 or 10-0. I’ve thought all along that a team with five losses could make it to states.
Saint Louis at 6-3? That’s something most fans would’ve been happy with just one month ago. But if not for a stunning 3 from a Kamehameha role player, the Crusaders would be locked into the state tourney. Peter Hanohano-Hashimoto was as efficient with his words as he was with his shots. His only shot attempt was nothing but nylon, a wing 3 with 1:05 left to give the Warriors a 70-68 lead.
“I guess I had confidence in myself,” Mr. Clutch said.
After not taking a shot for nearly 31 minutes, then lining up for a 3 for the big splash, he speaks truth.