In most situations, a loss on the basketball court can be forgotten soon enough.
The season is long. There are so many games, it becomes a blur. Eventually, there’s usually a chance at redemption. Farrington’s 62-53 loss at Kaiser is the first in Oahu Interscholastic Association East play for the Governors after seven wins. Four of those came against Top 10 teams: Moanalua, Kalaheo, Kahuku and Kailua. Coming into a Wednesday night matchup with Kaiser, Farrington was 5-1 on an opponent’s court.
Much of it had to do with subpar shooting from the field, 21-for-60 (35 percent), against Kaiser’s man-to-man defense. Other numbers don’t indicate anything extreme. Twelve turnovers, 4-for-14 from the 3-point arc. But the Governors took just nine foul shots and made seven, both very low numbers for a team that often attacks the paint with its big posts.
During a key stretch in the fourth quarter, Farrington saw double-teams on the block, came up scoreless in five possessions and turned the ball over twice.
Kaiser’s 13-2 run wiped out a 47-39 Farrington lead. Luke Stevens’ putback tied it at 49 with 6:20 remaining, and Hunter Dias’ steal led to a layup by Mario Drummer as the Cougars took the lead.
After Farrington tied the game at 51, it was Drummer, Kenji Toyama and Stevens again during a 6-0 run that pushed the home team ahead for good. Farrington’s first loss since Dec. 22 had more to do with a vastly improved Kaiser team than any other factor.
Drummer and Toyama, both sophomores, played their best when the pressure was on. Drummer broke down Farrington’s normally tough man defense for 13 of his 25 points in the final quarter. Toyama hit an assortment of runners, floaters and layups for 15 points.
Stevens, though, is a revelation. He had nine points, 11 rebounds and five blocks against the Govs. He was a one-man rebounding machine with five offensive boards in the third quarter and three more in the fourth.
“It’s reps. Stevens has been battling injuries,” Kaiser coach Kenneth Powell said.
Stevens recovered and played healthy in a 66-54 loss at Kailua on Jan. 9.
“Up to Kailua, he hadn’t been full health. You saw the rust, getting back into the swing of things, and since then brother man is putting up a good effort for us,” Powell said.
What makes Stevens a huge piece of the puzzle for Kaiser isn’t just rebounding. It’s his quick vertical on defense. It’s also his unselfishness after crashing the offensive glass. Eight offensive caroms is eight extra opportunities to score for Kaiser. He missed his share of putback tries, but when he didn’t have a clear look, he passed the ball to teammates to reset the offense.
“We preach that. He’s an in-the-paint guy. He can step out and shoot that, but it’s not necessary. He’ll have that full repertoire by the playoffs,” Powell said.
His energy and boing-boing persistence in the paint are timely. On the day Kaiser met Kailua, the Cougars lost Cyrus Singelman for the season. What was once a four-out, post-up-Singelman offense turned into a five-out set that has Drummer driving on opposing 4’s and 5’s. Drummer didn’t shoot exceptionally well, 7-for-20 from the field, but kept attacking and wearing down Farrington’s defense. Plus, Stevens was often there to clean up.
Toyama, the point guard, is enthused about Stevens, a senior who stands around 6-foot-3.
“It’s been fun. That guy can jump. I love throwing lobs to him. He’s a fun guy to play with,” Toyama said.
“He’s a high jumper in track and field,” Drummer added.
The future is bright, and it’s not so far down the road anymore for Kaiser, which is now 17-11 overall, 5-3 in OIA East play.
“I think it’s our chemistry. We’re working well together, training every day. That chemistry has blossomed,” Toyama said.
“It felt like we were missing a piece against Kailua, but we’ve been working together since then,” Drummer said.
Kaiser trails Farrington (12-7, 7-1) in the D-II standings, but that doesn’t mean the Cougars won’t enjoy their biggest win of the season — so far.
“It’s a good feeling. We prepared all week for this and we’ve wanted a shot against Farrington,” Toyama said.
The Governors will bounce back, coach Steven Leopoldo said.
“We’ve just got to keep their heads up and be humble,” he said.
Raefe McEnroe had 15 points and eight rebounds for the Govs. Aaron Bagaoisan added 11 points and Johnsen Bautista tallied 10.
Farrington (12-7, 7-1 OIA) 13 16 20 4 — 53
Kaiser (17-11, 5-3 OIA) 12 19 11 20 — 62
Farrington: Johnsen Bautista 10, Felcris Ahadain 3, Modesto Bacaltos 0, Aaron Bagaoisan 11, Aeman Kurt Castro 2, Raefe McEnroe 15, Randy Wong 0, Pono Roberts 8, Christian Havea 4.
Kaiser: Koa Tom 2, Nicodemus Garcia 3, Dane Tsue 0, Dre Falls 6, Luke Stevens 0, Kenji Toyama 15, Mario Drummer 25, Hunter Dias 2.
3-point goals: Farrington 4 (Bautista 2, Ahadain, McEnroe), Kaiser 2 (Garcia, Drummer).