Instant Classic: St. Joseph-‘Iolani recap

It was a good night to be an insomniac prep basketball fan.

By the time No. 5 ‘Iolani and St. Joseph took the court on Tuesday, toddlers were in bed and fans at Na Menehune Holiday Classic had already seen a double-overtime battle between host Moanalua and Waiakea. The ‘Iolani-St. Joseph game began sometime around 8:45 p.m. and finally wrapped up at 10:42 p.m., leaving the remaining 100 or so roundball diehards abuzz.

Unlike the Moanalua-Waiakea matchup, the underdog (St. Joseph) won 70-69 in overtime despite trailing 33-22 at the half. Seniors Sebi Ohara-Saft (21 points, five treys) and Thomas Fairman (25 points) were clutch. Ohara-Saft’s hot hand brought the Cardinals back with a torrent of treys in the third quarter. Fairman, a 6-foot-5 senior classmate of Ohara-Saft, proved difficult to contend with in the paint for ‘Iolani posts Gabriel Vega and Duke Pauli.

Even when Vega got his share of putbacks and drives, his teammates on the perimeter went just a little bit cold.
Meanwhile, St. Joseph got key plays from ballhawking guard Christian Kaui, fearless scorer Isaac Pacheco and space eater Cody Andrade.

It was a classic scenario with a twist: the 35-second clock allowed St. Joe to sit back in its 2-3 zone and rally when ‘Iolani teams of the past simply would have chewed off large chunks of the clock instead.

The Raiders got 33 points from Vega, a 6-5 senior who will play volleyball for Stanford next year. Erik Yamada, who hit three key 3-pointers, and Austin O’Leary finished with 11 points apiece. The Raiders made six 3-pointers in all. St. Joseph made seven.

‘Iolani played well enough to win, showing better chemistry with each passing week. It was the kind of loss a team can actually build on. O’Leary came through with a drive through the paint for a game-tying layup to send it into overtime — asserting himself as more than just a spot-up 3-point shooter. He did it with the game on the line.

St. Joe simply had the antidote to get past the perennial powerhouse, handling the three-quarter press with efficiency most of the night. Ohara-Saft, who blended in with older teammates in the past, was willing to step up.

“Everybody at halftime was telling Sebi, ‘Shoot the ball,’ ” Fairman said.

Coach Scott Saft’s schemes allowed the 6-1 senior to find openings against a tight Raiders man-to-man defense. The 3s kept coming as he got hot in the third.

“I think when that happened, that opened up everything for my teammates. I made some shots. They started sending doubles off ball screens and that opened up things for guys inside,” Ohara-Saft said.

Along the way, the Raiders had almost no choice but to play the odds. That mean leaving shooters like Pacheco open.
“Isaac made that floater,” Ohara-Saft said of a late drive from the right corner to the bucket by the 5-3 senior. “He had big shots all night.”

For Fairman, hard work in the offseason and a high level of intensity — twice, he bear-hugged Kaui after three-point plays — is paying off.

“We got sick of losing tournament games. The previous two tournaments we played, we lost in the first round, lost in the first round,” Fairman said. “We won our first-round game last night (Monday) and that’s kind of building momentum for us as we go along.”

Ohara-Saft and Fairman played for ‘Iolani’s offseason team, the Hawaii Raiders. While Vega got his hustle points, Pauli worked hard, too, and finished with just eight.

“You just gotta play straight up. Sometimes you’re going to get a foul call here and there, but you gotta keep your head up, just play good ‘D.’ And box them out on rebounds. A lot of times they’ll get second shots and third shots, and that’s what you gotta contain,” Fairman said.

There was no doubt that the two seniors would get texts from former teammate Will Scanlan-Leite. Or that their former coach, the late Harry Scanlan-Leite, was applauding from above.

“This is for Coach Harry,” Fairman said.

Just for fun, here’s a string of entries I posted on Facebook during the late stages of the game. We were way past deadline, so I kept the late-night insomniac hoopaholics who weren’t at the game a little entertained.

>> Rare fastbreak layup by Christian Kaui has St. Joseph within 43-42.
>> Thomas Fairman layup, St. Joseph leads ‘Iolani 44-43, 1:06 left, third quarter.
>> Gabriel Vega nice low-post move for a bucket, ‘Iolani ties it at 46, end third quarter. St. Joe guard Sebi Ohara-Saft unconscious from 3-point range.
>> Ohara-Saft – another 3, St. Joseph leads ‘Iolani 54-50, 3:15 left.
>> Kaui to Pacheco on the bomb for a layup, St. Joe leads ‘Iolani 56-52, 2:39 left.
>> Cody Andrade at the foul line: hits one FT . St. Joe leads 57-52.
>> Fairman contesting every ‘Iolani shot in the paint, Isaac Pacheco hits two FTs, St. Joe leads 59-52, 2:03 left.
>> Duke Pauli at the line: misses the first, makes the second. St. Joe 59, ‘Iolani 53, 1:57 remaining.
>> Erik Yamada 3-pointer from the top, ‘Iolani cuts the lead to 59-56, 1:22 left. St. Joe shouldn’t be double-teaming on the wing with a six-point lead, should they?
>> Pacheco drives baseline for 2, St. Joe leads 61-56. ‘Iolani ball :48 left.
>> Christian Kaui steal, misses the lefty layup, but ties up the rebounder for a jump ball. Possession: St. Joe. :41 left.
>> St. Joe throws away an inbounds pass, ‘Iolani ball, time out, :30 left. SJ still leads 61-56.
>> Kaui commits his fourth PF at midcourt, gives ‘Iolani bonus FTs, Yamada hits the first FT, 61-57. :25 left.
>> St. Joe struggling on inbounds, Fairman tied up, jump ball, IOL ball. Vega follow shot and fouled, IOL down 61-59, :15.7 left.
>> Vega way short on the free throw, but Andrew Okimura rebounds for ‘Iolani. Time out, :12.4 left, St. Joe leads 61-59.
>> Austin O’Leary drives for a bucket that drops in after hitting the back of the rim, ties the game at 61-all with 4 seconds left. St. Joe calls time with :02.7 left.
>> St. Joe fullcourt pass deflected, ‘Iolani’s desperation heave from 70 feet out is short. OVERTIME, 62-all.
>> Fairman scores in the low post, then steals a pass. St. Joe up 63-61, 2:55 left.
>> Kaui great steal an entry pass on the other side of the court. Fairman cuts for an easy layup on a pass from Ohara-Saft. St. Joe leads ‘Iolani 65-61, 1:41 left, OT.
>> Vega scores on a lay-in off an inbounds pass. SJ 65, IOL 63, 1:31 left, OT.
>> Andrade with a bullet pass wide of Fairman at waist level. He recovers for a jump ball. Second time someone’s whipped a low pass to the big man. Why don’t they keep it up high and easy for him?
>> Kaui bounce pass to Fairman on inbounds for a bucket and foul. Sinks the FT, SJ leads 68-63, 1:25 to go, OT.
>> IOL misses a 3, Fairman rebounds, time out St. Joe, 1:09 remaining. Still 68-63.
>> Pacheco’s corner 3-pointer is off the side of the backboard. ‘Iolani calls time, :45 left, OT. Shot clock playing a big role in these OT games. Teams can’t stall it out.
>> Vega follow shot (reverse layup) cuts it to 68-65, but Kaui goes long again, this time to Andrade, who passes to Pacheco for an easy 2. Then IOL scores on a tough reverse, 70-67, :13.1 left. Should Pacheco have drilled off some clock?
>> Fairman at the line, 1 and 1. misses.
>> IOL misses a trey, Vega hits a putback with :01 left, St. Joe upsets #5 IOL 70-69.

Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email