Coach Alika Smith was neither overjoyed nor disgruntled after No. 1 Kalaheo dispatched No. 8 Farrington 52-38 on Wednesday night at the Governors’ gym.
Smith felt the Mustangs stayed within their game for most of the first three quarters before running into a locomotive in the fourth.
Farrington put everything it had into a final-quarter rally, stealing the momentum and cutting what had been a 16-point Mustangs lead to eight, 40-32, with about three minutes to go.
In that fourth quarter, the Govs’ created turnovers with aggressiveness and all-out hustle until they started to foul and sent the wrong players to the line. From the stripe, Kaleb Gilmore went 6-for-7, teammate Kupa‘a Harrison went 5-for-6 and the Mustangs were 12-for-17 as a team in the period to keep Farrington at bay.
“We played a decent three quarters, actually two and a half,” Smith said. “We could have handled the pressure better. We haven’t had that problem pretty much all year. We got a little careless and lackadaisical, but we were fortunate that the kids hit some free throws that gave us some room to breathe.”
Kalaheo kept its perch atop the OIA East standings at 6-0. Farrington, after a strong start, has cooled off to 3-3.
“We’ll just keep plugging away and try to get better each time,” Smith said. “We need our upperclassmen to take more control, verbally, with each other.”
Smith lauded the play of Alex MacLeod.
“He gave us some big rebounds off the bench in the late stages,” the coach said.
Harrison, a senior guard who had a team-high 19 points, noticed his team’s initiative waning in the second half.
“At halftime, we talked about trying to extend the lead (25-13) and we started to do that, but then we got complacent and played soft and made weak passes,” Harrison said. “Coach just told us to settle down. Farrington’s a tough team. They’re not going to give up.
“I think that because we were playing really good defense, we started to get satisfied and were playing not to lose.”