In the end, two evenly-matched teams that were mathematically identical on the scoreboard needed four extra minutes to determine which would live and which would not.
The ‘Iolani Raiders’ 52-47 overtime win over Moanalua was a testimonial to their willingness to do what it takes. Yes, on a cold-shooting night, Kawika Lee’s proficiency from the arc — 4-for-7 — were a key to a fourth-quarter comeback.
But it took more. Long-range bombers Sam Wheeler and Frank Felix, hounded all game by Moanalua’s tough-nosed defenders, were a combined 1-for-10 from 3-point range. With the game tied at 44 in overtime, it was Wheeler who rocketed off the dribble to the rim for the go-ahead basket. A moment later, Felix drove hard to the rack and scored, giving the visiting Raiders a 48-44 lead with just over one minute to go.
OIA champion Moanalua (20-7) never recovered. Elijah McGruder’s three-point play in the paint brought the home team within one point, and Isaiah Sugiura’s deflection caused an ‘Iolani turnover with 1:01 remaining.
With both teams in the bonus, Moanalua looked inside to score. However, Shayden Molina tipped a pass from Sugiura to DiAeris McRaven. Molina was fouled on the other end seconds later. After battling McRaven on the block many times, Molina took his first free throws of the game, swishing both for a 50-47 lead with 40.5 seconds to go in overtime.
That was enough to seal the win. After a time out, Sugiura, a senior guard, missed a step-back 3 and ‘Iolani guard Noah Bumanglag rebounded. His pass to Wheeler for a wide-open layup with 8 seconds left finally put the game on ice.
It was a heartbreaking loss for Moanalua, which was 10-0 at home until tonight. During their 13-game win streak, Na Menehune had rarely been challenged until the OIA final last week, when they pulled out a 56-49 OT win over Kailua.
It was ‘Iolani (22-11), the third-place team from the ILH, that showed just a bit more resolve, composure and shot selection in crunch time. The senior-heavy Raiders had done it before with wild comeback wins over the likes of Diamond Bar (Calif.) on the road. The losses up and down the ledger didn’t derail them, either. With each key loss, they found a way to rebound.
“On the mainland, we got down a lot early,” Raiders coach Dean Shimamoto said. “This showed that fourth-quarter mentality. We were more aggressive going to the basket and on defense.”
Wheeler and Lee finished with 20 points each. Fifteen of Wheeler’s points came after halftime.
“The fact that this is the state championship (tournament) made a difference,” Wheeler said, comparing this to early tournaments. “Those were just preseason games.”
Wheeler’s ability to drive to the bucket was a key. With Moanalua’s shot blocker, McRaven, hobbled by an ankle injury, the Raiders shunned the long-range game down the stretch and took only one in OT.
“Usually, I’m a shoot-first kind of guy, but my 3’s weren’t falling,” Wheeler said. “So I knew I had to change it up. I saw I had the big man on me. I knew I could drive on him every time. We knew Moanalua was going to come out tough after winning the OIA championship. We had to come out as tough as we could.”
Lee was one of the defenders banging with McRaven on the block, along with Carter Kamana and Molina. But his ability to attack and hit clutch 3’s has been season-long.
“Mentally, you’ve just got to stay positive. My teammates found me and I was open,” said Lee, who was open more often that expected.
Now Punahou, their ILH rival, awaits on Friday in the semifinal round at Stan Sheriff Center.
“We’ve played each other so many times,” Lee said. “We know each other well.”
Moanalua got 11 points from junior guard Geremy Robinson and 11 from McGruder (eight rebounds). McRaven, who took a shot from a defender above the eye and had to get cleaned up on the bench in the fourth quarter, finished with six rebounds and four points. Robinson, too, hobbled with a reinjured ankle in the second half.
The Raiders forced Moanalua into 17 turnovers. Na Menehune shot 15-for-46 (32 percent) from the field, including 2-for-12 from the arc. They were also 15-for-22 at the foul line and had a minimal edge in rebounding, 34-33.
‘Iolani shot 19-for-55 (35 percent) from the field, including 5-for-21 at the arc. The Raiders were 9-for-13 from the FT line. They committed 13 turnovers.
‘Iolani (22-11) 8 9 5 19 11 — 52
Moanalua (20-7) 5 12 10 14 6 — 47
‘Iolani: Devon Fujinaka 0, Noah Bumanglag 1, Frank Felix 7, Sam Wheeler 20, Wesley Yamada 0, Carter Kamana 2, Kawika Lee 20, Shayden Molina 2.
Moanalua: Isaiah Sugiura 8, Blayze Simon 5, Rocky Ramones 5, DiAeris McRaven 4, Geremy Robinson 11, Kyle Hughley 3, Elijah McGruder 11.
3-point goals: ‘Iolani 5 (Lee 4, Wheeler), Moanalua 2 (Sugiura, Ramones).
HHSAA D-I Playoffs
|1||Feb. 18||Baldwin vs. Kapolei||Kapo, 49-41 (OT)||Baldwin|
|2||Feb. 18||Kailua vs. Kalaheo||Kail, 68-40||Kailua|
|3||Feb. 18||Hilo vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 72-45||Hilo|
|4||Feb. 18||Punahou vs. Kahuku||Pun, 64-46||Punahou|
|5||Feb. 21||(1) Maryknoll vs. Kapolei||Mryk, 51-30||McKinley|
|6||Feb. 21||(4) Waiakea vs. Kailua||Kail, 52-48||McKinley|
|7||Feb. 21||(2) Moanalua vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 52-47 (OT)||Moanalua|
|8||Feb. 21||(3) Lahainaluna vs. Punahou||Pun, 74-54||Moanalua|
|9*||Feb. 22||Moanalua vs. Lahainaluna||Moan, 58-52||Stan Sheriff Center|
|10*||Feb. 22||Kapolei vs. Waiakea||Kapo, 62-37||Stan Sheriff Center|
|11||Feb. 22||'Iolani vs. Punahou||Pun, 48-42||Stan Sheriff Center|
|12||Feb. 22||Maryknoll vs. Kailua||Mryk, 47-29||Stan Sheriff Center|
|13*||Feb. 23||Moanalua vs. Kapolei||Kapo, 57-50||Stan Sheriff Center|
|14*||Feb. 23||'Iolani vs. Kailua||Iol, 48-46||Stan Sheriff Center|
|15||Feb. 23||Punahou vs. Maryknoll||7 p.m.||Stan Sheriff Center|
|* — consolation|