Another consolation matchup at the ‘Iolani Classic. Consolation isn’t quite the word for hoop fans. There are so many good local teams in this tourney, this is more like a preview of the state tourney.
Chance Kalaugher opens with a bank-shot 3 from the left wing. After he’s called for an offensive foul — tight on-ball position by MPI’s Major Davis — the Cougars get a 3 from Keoua Mahiko. MPI staying close. It’s 8-4 after Nic Tom steals the ball and drives for a bucket.
Mahiko scores again on a left wing 3. Cougars lead 11-4 as MPI’s Danny Florenco attacks the basket and draws a shooting foul. Misses the first FT. Kaiser sends in 6-5 Ethan Hollandsworth. Florenco misses the second. Kaiser goes to Kalaugher in the high post. He drives and falls as someone puts a forearm or elbow to his nose. He recovers and gets the ball back out, and Kaiser scores as a quick pass goes to Hollandsworth on the other post for a layup. Good ball movement by the Cougars so far. They lead 13-4 with 3:02 left in the first.
Kaiser getting some pressure on the ball out of its 2-3 matchup zone, but MPI gets an open look from the top. Miss. Hollandsworth is 6-5 and if you include his big hair, he’s about 6-8. He challenges a putback in the paint and totally alters the shot attempt. He’s a huge plus for Kaiser defensively and will definitely help with offensive boards. The other day, Kaiser had zero offensive rebounds in the first half against The Master’s Academy (Fla.).
MPI sticking with man defense. Kalaugher getting impatient and forces up a tough runner from 15 feet out on the baseline. Offensive board? Kaiser. Inbounds pass, Kaiser misses, but Kaluagher glides in and sends down a putback dunk. Not clean, but still impressive. The Owls are reeling and Coach Ryan Hirata is challenging his guys to step up.
The Owls played fearlessly the other day against Master’s. But to be fair, they’re playing this tournament without their strongest post defender, 6-4 Justin Daise. They could really use him now, but he’ll be out until after Christmas, he told me. Concussion protocol.
Clock winds down and Kalaugher drives from the left, misses a bank-shot runner, but gets blasted by Zion Shepherd and hits the hardwood. Kalaugher makes the second FT.
The Owls salvage a rough first quarter when guard Jacen Kimura swishes a pull-up 3 from the top as the buzzer sounds. Kaiser leads 16-7.
Owls playing better defense now, but coming up empty at the other end. Kaiser getting a lift from reserves Michael Miske (four points) and Jonah Chinen (3-pointer). Both are seniors and there isn’t a lot of dropoff overall when Coach Branden Kawazoe goes to his bench. A team with a thin bench can do a lot of damage at the D-II level, but Kaiser’s success in D-I will correlate to its bench play. They haven’t depended entirely on Mahiko and Kalaugher so far today. And Hollandsworth was very active in his stint off the bench.
And as I write this, MPI starts attacking the paint effectively, cutting the lead to 23-11. Kalaugher checks back in.
MPI getting a bunch of 3-on-1, 2-on-1 breaks. The Owls are on an 11-1 run and have cut the lead to 24-18 with 1:34 left.
A minute left in the first half and Hirata wants his team to hold for the last shot. Easier said than done. Mahiko and Miske are applying great pressure out of Kaiser’s 2-3 zone. Ball goes to the corner, trapped by Mahiko (6-1) and Kalaugher (6-5), and the Owls nearly throw it away. Florenco’s 25-footer from the top is challenged by Kalaugher and the shot doesn’t draw iron. Collision at midcourt as Miske grabs the long rebound and attempts a long shot, but the official won’t blow his whistle on that kind of shot at the buzzer.
Half ends with Kaiser ahead 24-18.
Owls releasing early. Jones feeds Shepherd, who is all alone for an easy layup, cutting the lead to 24-20. Kalaugher misses an open corner 3 and MPI rebounds, gets fouled. Momo with the Owls. They were down 23-7. Turnover, MPI, backcourt violation.
Another Kaiser miss and Logan Hutchinson releases early. Outlet pass upcourt and he’s fouled and goes to the line. Makes the FTs and it’s 24-22. WOW.
Mahiko with a great block on Davis’ baseline jumper, avoiding the foul. Kalaugher pushes upcourt, is swarmed and then finds Mahiko for an open jumper. Big play.
Then Kimura drives the paint and gets swatted by Hollandsworth, who bats the roundball off the glass. Momo back to Kaiser. Time out, MPI, 5:04. Kaiser up 26-22.
Kalaugher misses a pull-up banker with Davis tight on him. Shepherd releases early and gets the long pass for another easy Owls layup. 26-24.
Oddness. Kalaugher called for an offensive foul that was borderline. 3:35 to go in the third. He leaves the game. But on the way upcourt after getting the ball in, MPI’s Florenco is whistled for a technical foul. Not sure what he said to the official, but it was certainly not wise. The Cougars make one of the two free throws.
Isaiah Lundell goes after a 50-50 loose ball and dives on it. Time out, Kaiser, 2:31. If the Cougars win this game by a point or two (or three), that was a big hustle play that will pay off later.
MPI content to stay in its 2-3 zone. Kaiser with another miss, but reserve guard Jalen Pinks gets back very quickly to protect for Kaiser. But he drives on the fastbreak and commits Kaiser’s second charging foul in this period. It’s turned into a defensive battle and there is no indication that anyone is fresh enough to begin hitting shots.
And just like that, Shepherd cuts off an elbow screen, catches the pass in the lane and banks his shot in. Kaiser’s lead is down to 27-26. Kaiser back in tight halfcourt man defense. Wild sequence to end the quarter. Kaleb Edison steals the ball, loses the ball, Kaiser gets it back and plays for the final shot, but Mahiko loses the ball at midcourt. Shepherd’s 44-footer banks off the rim and barely misses. KAIS 27, MPI 26.
First play of the quarter and Kalaugher is called for his fourth foul, an offensive foul as he was battling for position on the low post. He can’t get a break against guys 50 or 75 pounds lighter. It’s one of those basic situations where he would fine using that kind of strength and leverage against most college guys. He stays in the game with those four fouls.
Unnecessary foul on the low post by Mahiko and Shepherd goes to the line for a 1-and-1. Miss. But at the other end, Mahiko misses a 10-footer in traffic, going 1-on-3. MPI rebounds.
The easiest way, or simplest way, for Kaiser to win this game is to stick Hollandsworth and Kalaugher on the low posts to simply crush the Owls on the boards. And with that, Kawazoe sends Hollandsworth into the game. He sticks an elbow jumper and Kaiser leads 29-26.
Mad scramble at midcourt and Shepherd lands on Kalaugher’s right leg. Scary moment, but Kalaugher bounces right up. Between his love for jumping off cliffs and the outdoors in general, and his physical ability, I think he’s a future contestant and winner on “Survivor”.
Florenco misses a 10-foot floater. MPI stone cold. Next possession, a backup guard tries a baseball pass to a teammate on the low post during a drive into the paint. Turnover. But it’s close and Hirata is showing a lot of trust in his bench. Valuable minutes for his young guys.
Hollandsworth goes to the line and misses a 1-and-1. Ouch. Both teams now over the foul limit.
If Daise is healthy and playing, do the Owls have the lead right now? Hmm…
Hutchinson snares the long offensive rebound and is fouled by Hollandsworth. He swishes the first FT. Hits the second. 29-28 Kaiser still ahead with 3:31 left.
Tom’s entry pass to Kalaugher from halfcourt is risky and tipped. Kalaugher retrieves the ball and is fouled as he dribbles to the hoop. Fouled. Hits the first of a 1-and-1. Second shot good. 31-28, 3:20.
Travis Murayama feeds Kimura in the left corner for an open 3, shot is short. Kaiser ball.
Inbounds pass to Kalaugher for an open 3, shot all net. 34-28, Kaiser.
Kimura answers with a 3 from the right wing. Kaiser leads 34-31, time out MPI, 2:16.
Mahiko drives and scores at the rim as the Cougars handle MPI’s fullcourt press. But Shepherd scores inside seconds later. Mahiko to the line, misses his 1-and-1. MPI has the ball, Kaiser leads 36-33 with 1:10 left. WOW. Codey Mita banks in a 3 from the right wing with 1:06 to play. Game is tied 36-all as Kaiser calls time out.
Mahiko drives baseline from the left corner, nobody stops him and he scores at point-blank range. Kaiser leads 38-36 with :46 left.
Shepherd to the line :33. Hits the second, 38-37.
Kaiser works the ball upcourt against the press but Miske turns and his pass to Kalaugher misses badly. Ball goes out of bounds.
MPI ball. Florenco misses a pull-up wing 3, but Shepherd is there for the putback and the lead. Time out, Kaiser, 3.9 seconds left.
The clock is adjusted to 4.5 seconds. Kaiser has to inbound 84 feet from its basket. They can’t get the ball in and Nic Tom calls Kaiser’s final time out. Kalaugher and Hollandsworth are both 6-5, adequate deep targets. If MPI doesn’t double-team Kalaugher, I’d be surprised.
Hilarious. Mita steals Tom’s long bounce pass, but he starts celebrating and travels before the buzzer. 1.5 seconds left.
Inbounds from the backcourt sideline. Tom’s pass finds Mahiko at the foul line. It’s a Christian Laettner flashback? Mahiko turns and shoots, but his shot is wide left and time expires. Huge win for Mid-Pacific. They’ve got enough talent and definitely enough heart. But coming close isn’t the same as outright beating the No. 2 team in the state, and that’s what the Owls just did. Rising, indeed.
Kaiser will rebound. Nothing like a close loss to sharpen the edge.