One of the reasons why a team with 12 losses already this season is practically bullet-proof when it comes to statewide respect.
The St. Francis Saints showed once again why they’ve earned every bit of that rock-solid appraisal on Saturday night. No. 7 St. Francis rallied from a six-point deficit in the final 2:24 to outlast Mid-Pacific 71-63 in overtime. That spoiled MPI’s homecoming night. Both the boys and girls teams lost games in OT before a packed house at Mills Gymnasium.
Kordel Ng had 23 points, nine rebounds and five assists. All five dimes were to center Nalu Kanalulu, who pumped in 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field.
Colin Ramos hit four treys and finished with a team-high 19 points for the Owls. Danton Nitta also connected on four treys and had 14 points.
St. Francis (15-12 overall) notched its first win ever in Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I boys basketball after opening the regular season with three losses. The Saints seemed to be fatigued at times, like many teams in the ILH at this point.
“It’s not really fatigue. It was the energy from the crowd that helped us a lot,” Ng said.
They did it with diversity.
“I’m locked down all the time,” said Kameron Ng, who finished with 14 points against MPI’s version of a box-and-one matchup zone.
Since re-injuring his ankle recently, it’s now at about “60 percent,” he said.
“(Kordel) was attacking and finishing tonight. This first win means a lot. We knew the ILH would be tough. In D-II we would smash teams, but we have to adapt (in D-I),” he said.
St. Francis trailed 47-41 with 2:28 left. Titus Liu (11 points) splashed a clutch 3 from the right corner that brought the Saints within 51-50 with 50.8 seconds left in regulation.
The Owls, who led by eight points in the third quarter, had to scramble in the final 50 ticks. Kanalulu was on the receiving end of a Kordel Ng dish inside to give the visitors a 54-53 lead with 26 seconds left.
MPI guard Kaimana Lapina missed a corner 3 in the final seconds, but retrieved the offensive rebound and was fouled with :02 on the clock. He swished the first foul shot to tie the game at 54, but was long with the second. Kameron Ng’s desperation heave from 85 feet away glanced off the backboard as time expired.
From there, the Saints saw Kanalulu foul out just seconds into the extra period when Ramos drew slight contact under the basket with a pump fake. After Ramos connected on both FTs, Mid-Pacific had a 56-54 lead. Then the Saints were unstoppable in a 12-1 run.
Kordel Ng scored seven points in OT and Jett Tanuvasa sank all four of his free-throw tries as the Saints spread the floor and killed the clock. Between those two, Kameron Ng and Makua Marumoto, St. Francis shot 13-for-16 from the charity stripe after regulation.
MPI got no closer than six the rest of the way.
At Mills Gymnasium
St. Francis (15-12, 1-3 ILH) 12 9 11 22 17 – 71
Mid-Pacific (6-9, 1-3 ILH) 9 12 17 16 9 — 63
SF: Kameron Ng 14, Kordel Ng 23, Jett Tanuvasa 4, Titus Liu 11, Makua Marumoto 2, Noah Mackenzie 0, Nalu Kanalulu 17.
MPI: Lucca Kitashima 0, Danton Nitta 14, Kaimana Lapina 7, Colin Ramos 19, Elijah Kahue-Parker 5, Hugh Donlon 5, Cameron Dang 0, Benjamin Wong 0, Jason Fahmi 2, Kala Nakaya 8, Cameron Hersch 3.
3-point goals: SF 6 (Liu 3, Kam. Ng 2, Kor. Ng), MPI 8 (Nitta 4, Ramos 4).
Now Saint Francis gets to see first hand what Mid-Pacific has had to deal with playing in ILH D1 all these years as a small school. MPI faces the same size disadvantages that SF and Damien have used as reasons to declare DII. MPI could’ve definitely done the same and played DII for boy’s basketball any numbers of seasons and they would have been automatic challengers for the DII state title every year. Maybe then MPI would’ve had the same treatment SF has had the past two seasons with hype-up articles and putting guys on (DII) all-state teams. Ryan Hirata does an amazing job with his squad and it can’t be easy to go up against the ILH powerhouses who siphon in talent from all over the island every year.. but he has done a bang up job imo. Could’ve easily went the easy way out and dropped down a level but facing the grind of the DI ILH schedule is daunting and one MPI has had to compete against which I feel they don’t get enough respect for.
It’s plain and simple, in the ILH, you got to recruit or come up with a game plan to be competitive. I believe Hirata, left Maryknoll to be with his pal D. Low…