Steve Hathaway played his cards right.
The longtime Roosevelt boys basketball coach had a younger, smaller team, one that hadn’t faced a gauntlet of Top 10 competition. The bigger, more experienced squad, Kailua, had endured through a tough preseason schedule. Even on the road, the Surfriders had an edge in just about every area.
The final 1:27 was wild and wooly, Roosevelt missing on opportunities to take the lead. It took two clutch free throws by Noah Ah Yat with 52.7 seconds left to give Kailua the lead for good. He made the tying FT, and after Hathaway called time out, he swished the second one for the lead. It wasn’t a pretty finish for the Rough Riders, but what they did in coming back from an 11-point deficit was remarkable. So here are the remarks.
>> After making just one of their five 3-point attempts in the first quarter, the Rough Riders were a combined 6-for-7 from the arc in the second and third stanzas. That generally neutralized Kailua’s 13-9 edge in rebounds during those periods. For the game, Roosevelt shot 8-for-16 from deep.
>> All things being equal… they actually were. Almost.
Kailua 21-39 (.538)
Roosevelt 20-39 (.513)
Kailua 10-18 (.556)
Roosevelt 6-10 (.600)
So far, so good. Basically similar in those three categories. And then…
Kailua 3-8 (.375)
Roosevelt 8-16 (.500)
That’s a 15-point edge to the Rough Riders from deep. Kailua has shooters, just not as many as teams like Roosevelt. Kailua coach Walter Marciel pleaded with his team to keep pounding the rock inside, where Hano Kohatsu was very efficient. But Roosevelt’s ability to move the ball and hit from deep basically nullified this:
Kailua 24 total (nine offensive)
Roosevelt 17 total (seven offensive)
This was far more pronounced in the first half, when Kailua owned a 15-6 edge on the glass.
The difference makers for Roosevelt were many, but none more than reserve guard Micah Visoria. The freshman was 0-for-1 from the field in the first quarter, entering in the final minute or two when Kailua went on a 9-3 run to open the lead to 21-10. But it seemed like every time Roosevelt cut the lead from 8 or 9 to 1 or 2 points, Visoria was on the floor. His ability to hit consistently from long range changed Kailua’s defensive approach, particularly with 6-foot-4 Christian Mejia on the bench with foul issues.
Once Visoria began to splash from deep, the Surfriders were required to extend their zone and that created opportunities for teammates. It was, like the flu bug spreading around the island, quite contagious. That plus smart ball movement — point guard Jared Elwin dished eight assists — kept Roosevelt close.
With their most athletic big man (Mejia and his 36-inch vertical) sidelined, plus sneaky-effective freshman guard Everett Torres-Kahapea out (jaw), the Surfriders needed every one of those 23 points and seven rebounds by Kohatsu. And a rainbow 3 from 40 feet out by Zach Marrotte (12 points, six boards) to end the third quarter proved to be crucial.
This was less about Kailua’s performance and more about how dangerous these Rough Riders might be in OIA East play and beyond.
“It’s always tough to come in here and win,” Marciel said. “Steve has his guys playing hard, that’s for sure.”
There’s no question Kailua has been, probably, the busiest and road-weariest of all teams aside from Konawaena’s girls team. When the Punahou Invitational began last Monday, Marciel wondered aloud if it was too much to ask his team to play just 24 hours after landing from a mainland trip. Now, he’s certain it was a bit much, even for a mature group of seasoned seniors.
“We shouldn’t have gone to the Punahou tourney. We should’ve practiced instead,” Marciel said. “But we’ve got tomorrow off.”
Then there are three league games for the Surfriders next week. The OIA East isn’t the gauntlet that ILH Division I clearly is, but it’s no piece of cake, either. Roosevelt more or less proved that tonight. And the league is just one game into its schedule.
“We grew up tonight. I don’t think anybody thought we’d have a chance,” Hathaway said. “Kailua had a good preseason and we’ve had mostly a D-II schedule. I’m proud of the way our guys played. We’ve got to build off this.”