Senior exhibitions, all-star games, showcases — they are unpredictable.
One year, almost nobody played defense in the ILH-OIA boys game at the Geremy Robinson Senior Classic. But more often, neither side is content to go through the motions.
Tonight, the ILH prevailed in a thriller, 88-87, over the OIA that showcased the best of the private-school league and the best of the public schools. The ILH saw a 10-point lead dissipate on Saturday night as the OIA got a huge spark from Raefe McEnroe (Farrington) and Kukilakila Kahalekai (Nanakuli) in the second half. With Kailua sharpshooter Everett Torres-Kahapea on fire — 9-for-12 from the field, 22 points — the OIA seemed destined to push past the brink.
The game was tied at 76, and again at 85 when Kameron Ng of St. Francis rained a 3 from NBA range on a feed from Makoto Kamata (Maryknoll), and the ILH led for good in the final minute. For Ng, it was a final spin on the hardwood as a high school player. His journey, along with brother Kordel and father Kekoa, a St. Francis assistant coach, ended with the MVP award at the Classic.
“I’m surprised I got (the MVP award). I made that last shot and maybe that helped me out,” he said.
Ng finished with 16 points, while Marcus Tobin (Maryknoll) tallied 21 points and five rebounds, and Duke Clemens (Punahou) had 15 points and five boards. Mr. Consistent, Maryknoll’s Kalai Akaka, had 11 rebounds, six points and five assists. Kaulana Makaula added 10 points.
A grateful audience at Moanalua gym got to see two highly competitive matchups in the girls and boys games. The mastery of scorers like Ng and Torres-Kahapea will be missed by prep hoops fans. Seeing their skills in the prime-time moments of a well-played challenge between leagues — along with some additions from the neighbor islands in the boys and girls contests — was worth preserving on video.
Down 88-87 with 15 seconds to go, Kailua coach Walter Marciel drew up a perfect play for the OIA squad in the final seconds, one that he hadn’t used before. It was drawn up as a lob off the backboard from the point to King Kekaulike’s Darius Lature. The pass was a regular lob instead, and he was thwarted near the left block. After the game, Torres-Kahapea insisted that there was a foul on the play.
Maryknoll coach Kelly Grant was straightforward, as always.
“I have fun when we win,” he said. “Not like last year.”
The game was a demonstration of what the state had to offer on the hardwood this season. Role players were huge in Maryknoll’s ascent to the state title, its first since 1984. Superlative playmakers like Ng and Torres-Kahapea captured the imagination of young fans from day one of preseason up to tonight’s barn-burner. Even Kahalekai, the Nanakuli scoring machine who poured in 61 points during a regular season, played a big role in the OIA’s rally.
“Going against the best of the best, it took me awhile to get going. We were sitting for hours,” Kahalekai said of the preliminaries that included a 3-point contest, a 1-on-1 battle and a dunk contest. “I drove to the basket, that’s what I’ve been taught. If my 3’s aren’t there, drive to the basket.”
McEnroe, the 6-3 hybrid who caused matchup problems for opponents all season, added 11 points, five rebounds and four assists. Kapolei’s Ja’Shon Carter, who won the 1-on-1 contest earlier, scored 15 for the OIA in his finale.
“It was a good experience having fun with all my friends,” he said.