Hopping here and there on this overcast Saturday. The James Alegre Invitational and Surfrider Classic are going on, and there’s also the girls tourney at Kaiser (Ted Fukushima Invitational).
Honokaa vs. Farrington
Pre-game: Honokaa is a year older and wiser, playing and finishing games with more success. The Dragons, coached by Jayme Carvalho, are also getting the most out of their trip to Oahu, playing two games each day after a single game on Tuesday. That includes a later game today at Hawaii Baptist. At least they’ll have the comfort of air-conditioning there. Then again, the Eagles love to run and gun, not a good matchup for any team that’s played eight games in 4.5 days.
The Dragons edged a young, tall Leilehua squad 37-34 on Friday.
The Governors have struggled for the past two seasons, not for lack of effort. Coach Steven Leopoldo comes from the old school, but it’s safe to say the past two years have been among his most challenging after decades as a head or assistant coach with boys and girls at Farrington. The team is young, and C Chris Afe is not playing at this point, opting to focus on football, Leopoldo has been told.
The Governors lost to Punahou 64-33 on Friday.
Q1: Farrington opened with a 4-0 lead, sent in the second unit less than 2 minutes in — after Honokaa sent its second team in because Carvalho was unhappy with the first unit’s lethargy — and the Dragons came right back. It was 10-all when Honokaa went on a 6-1 run on a couple of 3-point shots. Their 2-2-1 three-quarter press doesn’t translate into instant momentum, but has a way of slowly strangling opposition. At the very least, it makes the other team work.
End Q1: Dragons 16, Govs 11.
Q2: Another 3-point shot has the Dragons up 19-11. Mosi Afe scores on a a tough reverse layup on a steal and pass by Paul Madamba. Now the Govs are trapping in the backcourt. Fastbreak layup by Pono Roberts cuts it to 19-16.
Nice to see some fullcourt pressure by the Govs. That’s how it was back in the day when Leopoldo was a slashing scorer for Coach Harry Pacarro.
Honokaa sticking with the 2-2-1. Farrington getting the hang of breaking it, but they aren’t scoring off it. When Leilehua faced that 2-2-1 last night, it wasn’t a major problem until the second half.
2:21 left in the first half, Honokaa leads 23-22. The backcourt pressure by Farrington was a one-time thing. Blown layup by Honokaa leads to a 3-on-2 fastbreak for the Govs. Afe kicks out to Felcris Ahadain for a wing 3. Farrington up 27-24.
Reverse layup by Honokaa, time out with less than 1 minute left.
Govs look tired, turning the ball over three times in a row in transition. Honokaa missed three layups in the final 2 minutes, but a straightaway 3 rattles in with :03 left.
End Q2: Dragons 29, Govs 27. I finally found out who No. 2 for Honokaa is: Gene Ansagay, who used to wear No. 4, apparently. He’s the guy who hit the 3 just before the half.
Q3: Govs settling in, far fewer turnovers against the 2-2-1, but not finishing at the basket. Honokaa has extended the lead to 40-32. This quarter, the Dragons are making their layups. Dragons staying in halfcourt zone (2-3).
Govs pressing fullcourt again. Afe with a steal, but the Govs can’t get an easy shot, missing a 3. Dragons lead 40-34, :15.2 left in the third. Afe drives, fouled. Hits the first FT, then the second, 40-36. Govs push on the break in the final 10 seconds, but nobody on the bench is counting the clock down. Bad pass, steal, Honokaa misses a runner from 30 feet at the buzzer.
End Q3: Dragons 40, Govs 36.
Q4: Ehzikiel Santiago fouled on a 3-point shot. He makes all three shots, Govs within 40-39. Ahadain doubles the low post and strips the ball away, Roberts scores on a drive through the middle to score. Govs lead for the first time, 40-39.
They’re going back and forth now, frenetic pace. This looks like BIIF basketball from the 1990s.
Govs lead 53-50, 2:00 left. Govs look like a team learning how to win. Some bad choices here, forcing a shot (swatted), weak passes against the 2-2-1. Nobody using a fake. Honokaa can’t put it together either, missing an easy layup shot on the steal, missing 1-and-1 free throws. I give them some slack this being their seventh game this week.
Farrington ball, time out, 1:36, still leading 53-50. Leopoldo begging his team to shoot nothing but layups. Will they listen to a man with decades of experience? I think it’s 50-50.
Govs run the flex patiently and draw a foul. 1-and-1 (shooter not listed on the roster) and he hits the first, 54-50, 1:25. Second shot all net. Afe commits a pointless foul in the backcourt, but Honokaa misses another 1-and-1.
Govs clumsy with the ball, Honokaa steal, layup, time out. The lead is down to 55-52 with :49 left. Offensive foul called on Ahadain.
Kahakea Callihan hits a 15-foot baseline J, time out Honokaa, down 55-54 with :26.9 left.
Dragons nearly steal the ball at midcourt, but they foul. Santiago goes to the line for two FTs, hits them both, 57-54. Honokaa advances past midcourt, time out with :15.5 to play.
Callihan gets a clean look from 21 feet straightaway, but hits the back iron and Farrington rebounds. Santiago misses the first with :05.6. Second FT long, Honokaa rebounds and FARRINGTON FOULS THE REBOUNDER. I’ve seen some low-IQ basketball in the past two-plus decades, but wow. This puts Honokaa at the line for double-bonus and :04.7 left. I feel Leopoldo’s pain. Still 57-54.
Kamuela Spencer-Herring hits the first and will try to miss the second. Farrington rebounds, fouled with 1.6 seconds left. Double bonus, 57-55. First FT misses long. Honokaa needs a prayer. Govs make the second FT (by No. 32, unlisted) and Honokaa calls time out, down 58-55, :01.6.
Might have worked better to miss that last FT since there was just one second left. Honokaa can set up for a 3-point shot here, but can they get it off?
Honokaa can’t throw deep, pass to Kelvin Falk, who dribbles once and misses from 55 feet away.
End Q4: Govs 58, Dragons 55.
Kahuku @ St. Francis
Pre-game: Lot of excitement for this matchup. Sakura Avea transferred back to Kahuku from Utah. Kahi Villa’a son also transferred to Kahuku (from the East Coast). Saints coming off a big win over Kalaheo.
Even UH coach Eran Ganot is here, getting a look at commit Avea.
Q1: Both teams a bit tight in the first few minutes. Saints lead 7-6. Avea smothered most of the time by man defense with help.
Noah Kurosawa with a steal on a Kahuku outlet pass, swishes a wing 3, 10-6 Saints. Avea crashes the offensive glass, fouled, hits both FTs.
Kahuku in man defense. So far they look tall, long, fairly athletic. Not a lot of basketball IQ out there aside from Villa and Avea.
End Q1: Saints 11, Red Raiders 8.
Q2: Here comes the IQ plus athleticism. Kesi Ah-Hoy enters and is a force with three steals and three layups. Kahuku leads 18-17.
End Q2: Red Raiders 23, Saints 22. It’s interesting to see that the Saints have one of last night’s key contributors, freshman Kordell Ng, on the bench in street clothes. He played in the JV game today, a close win by Kahuku. Looks like he will stay on the JV, but he sure played a heck of a game last night against Kalaheo.
Avea looks a little tentative, normal for someone rejoining a team after a near two-year hiatus. The Saints have not accommodated him whatsoever. At least one coach on the St. Francis staff remembers Avea well from various youth leagues on Oahu over the past five or six years. Avea tore it up when he was 11, 12, 13 as a swingman who could dominate a game against smaller, quick players, and bigger posts.
Villa looks like the real deal. Smooth, strong, great control of the rock, nothing too flashy. Great burst to the bucket and can finish at the rim or with a nice teardrop runner, which he did in the second quarter. The key for Kahuku is going to be how Coach Brandyn Akana develops his role players. Ah-Hoy is capable of becoming a terrific player, and being a lefty only helps him. He might be an All-Defensive Team guy right now. Avea already was an outstanding defender as a sophomore before he transferred to Bingham.
Q3: Kahuku maintaining a narrow lead. St. Francis lost Kameron Ng when he got hit on the nose during a fastbreak. He fed a teammate, Wembly Mailei, for a layup, but wound up with a bloody nose on the 2-on-2 play. The game resumed for a minute, but officials stopped play to get blood wiped off the floor with 4:50 in the third.
Kahuku leads 27-24 and lined up in a 2-3 zone, but is back to man defense. Defensive struggle here. Kurosawa ties it at 27 with two FTs. Both teams in hammer mode, one player on each side has been poked/smacked in the eye this quarter. No freebies under the rim.
Is Kahuku a Top 5 team? Potentially, yes. Maybe St. Francis is, too. Mid-Pacific. I don’t remember what I listed last night, but here’s how I’d vote right now.
7. St. Francis
Avea hits one of two free throws. Then the Saints get a hustle offensive rebound and skip pass to Kameron Ng for a 3, and St. Francis takes a 30-29 lead. Big Red ties it at 30 on a FT. 2:09 left in the third.
Red Raiders pushing the ball in transition every time, getting free throws and layups. Both teams in the bonus already. I just want this to be a close game that gets done by 7 p.m. so I can catch the title game at the Surfrider Classic (7:30 p.m.). A man can dream.
Kahuku getting a strong third quarter from No. 14 (no roster available), spin move and bank shot in the lane for a 34-33 Kahuku lead. St. Francis holding for the last shot, Ng drives from the top, kicks to Kurosawa, who swishes a corner 3 with :02 left in the quarter.
End Q3: Saints 36, Red Raiders 34.
Q4: Another corner 3 by Kurosawa brings the Saint crowd to their feet, 39-34 lead. Then Avea soars for a rebound, shakes off a defender jostling for the ball, and goes coast to coast for a layup. That’s the Samuta Avea I remember.
Saints giving out a lot of fouls under the basket, taking their chances with Kahuku at the line. And with Kurosawa in the corner. He swishes another 3, wide open, and the Saints lead 43-41. WOW.
It’s not a wow that they’re competing. It’s a wow that they’re withstanding a strong Kahuku squad at a physical-contact level. And just like that, Kurosawa lines up at the other corner and strokes his fourth 3-pointer since the last shot of the first half. Kahuku simply not identifying him at all. Saints lead 46-41.
Avea at the line, hits the first shot, 46-42, 3:59. Swishes the second, 46-43.
Villa picks up Ng at midcourt, and Ng gets past him and draws a foul at the rim. First FT good, second good, 48-43, 3:38.
The crowd here is about 75 percent sky blue shirts and 25 percent red. They’re a factor in this pristine, small gym. Micah Kalei at the line, 3:07, misses both on the double bonus, but Manoa Kualii-Moe hustles to the corner for the offensive board.
Ng misses from the top, but winds up with the loose ball and feeds Mailei under the basket, but he misses. Rebound by Kahuku’s big man (No. 50), fouled. 2:32 left, he hits the first and mises the second, but Avea skies to pluck the ball and attack. Fouled. Two shots. They can’t really stop Avea when he’s assertive. Two FTs, 2:29, 48-44.
Avea misses the first FT, time out St. Francis. This is going to mess up my ballot in a good way. Everybody loves an underdog, at least on paper. As I mentioned yesterday, St. Francis is D-II in name only when it comes to basketball. They win this game at home against one of the OIA’s top D-I teams, the Saints might warrant a No. 5 vote.
Avea hits the second FT, 48-45. Fullcourt press is on by Kahuku and Ng slices through, and pulls the ball out instead of attacking the rim. Smart. He nearly double dribbles, ref indicates it was poked away. Then Bryce Nishida jacks up a wing 3 and misses. Saints rebound and Kualii-Moe will shoot two. Villa has FOULED OUT. Yikes.
Kualii-Moe misses the first and the second, but Bubba Akana grabs the long rebound. Ng has the ball and is fouled with 1:35 left. Ng hits both FTs, 50-45.
AVEA FROM NBA RANGE, a straightaway 3 from the St. Francis midcourt logo. Hello, he’s back. Ng fouled by Avea and that’s Avea’s fifth foul. Double yikes for Kahuku. He’s got paper in his nostril, another guy who took a shot to the nose today. Ng hits both FTs. Kahuku misses an NBA 3 and Ng hustles to the corner for the rebound, fouled with 1:07 left.
Ng hits both, 54-48. Kahuku fouled, two FTs, they make the second, 54-49, :55.2. Kahuku playing straight man, no fouling, and Ng is called for carrying near midcourt. Easy call for most referees, hand under the ball. Dribbling too high. Big break for Kahuku, which calls time out, :40.
Kahuku turnover, Ng at the line again, :25.4. Hits both FTs. Kahuku 3 misses, out of bounds, off St. Francis with :14.9 to go. Kahuku hit in the eye again, two FTs. First shot good. Second in, 56-51, :06.7 left.
FINAL: St. Francis 56, Kahuku 51.
Post-game: More like an epilogue. Chatting with a player at the Surfrider Holiday Classic, I’m told Avea suffered a dislocated ankle or foot a few months ago while playing for Hawaii Select. He didn’t show any lingering effects today against St. Francis, but that would explain why he didn’t seem like his usual self. He’ll be OK, that’s my guess. Just getting his groove back.
7:30 p.m. (more like 8:05 p.m.)
Kamehameha vs. Kailua
Surfrider Holiday Classic
Pre-game: I stand totally corrected. I hadn’t kept up with this tourney, and host Kailua upset ‘Iolani in the semifinals on Friday. That tilts my ballot when I vote after tonight’s games. If Kailua wins tonight, WOW. For now, this is what I’d have if I had to vote:
5. St. Francis
The kicker, of course, is that Kalaheo lost to St. Francis last night without their best weapon, Captain Whitlock (groin). But at this point, it’s a reshuffle every week. Just fun to tinker with. As nutritional as whipped cream.
I’ve always thought of Kamehameha, at least in the past two seasons, as a dangerous mismatch problem because of the versatility and athleticism of Kobe Young, who is a forward, really, just happens to be 6-4 and can jump like crazy. And has 3-point range. I’m expecting a big season from this team, especially returnees like Kamren Victorino-Kato. Long, fast and aggressive. And tall.
Kailua has a beastly athlete in Christian Mejia (36-inch vertical). Will he break out this season? Physically, has the tools.
Q1: Both teams open in man defense. Both coaches, Kamehameha’s Greg Tacon and Kailua’s Wally Marciel, love their man defense by principle. Kato’s first shot, tough miss in traffic. Young’s first shot on the baseline: air ball.
Kailua first on the board, a fastbreak layup, 2-0. Mejia misses a layup on the baseline, not using the backboard. Zach Marrotte is one of Kailua’s returnees, nice pass on a 3-on-2, but his teammate hadn’t cut to the basket.
Kato with a nice pick at midcourt, but he’s called for a charge at the basket. Kamehameha with a three-quarter press, but the Surfriders break it and Mejia hits a tough runner from 5 feet out.
Kato with another steal, but he loses the ball in transition. Kailua the other way with a 3, all net. Time out, Warriors. Kailua leads 8-0, 3:41.
Young drives on Mejia and misses an underhanded layup, but follows for his first bucket. 8-4.
Kamehameha more than willing to run with Kailua, of course, but the turnovers are racking up. More giveaways than field goals.
End Q1: Surfriders 10, Warriors 6.
Q2: Kato drives untouched to the bucket from the top for a layup. Next possession, nails an open 3 from the top. Next possession, wild pass on the fastbreak for a turnover. Warriors lead 11-10.
Kailua on a mini-run, 5-0, to take a 15-11 lead. But Kato answers. Splash from the top. 15-14.
Kailua with a miss from 19 feet, a long 2. Why anybody shoots a long 2 is a mystery. Settling for a shot like that, the Surfriders could use a little more awareness. Warriors attack and Young scores at the rim for an and-1 opportunity. Misses the FT, but the Warriors lead 16-15.
Warriors working the ball to Young on the low post, fully committed. Nice spin move, misses a hanging 10-footer from the baseline, offensive board. Another miss out of motion offense, offensive board, jump ball. Kamehameha retains. Kato misses an open corner 3 and Marrotte is out is a blur up the court. They set up and he scores inside, possible three-point play. Misses, Mejia rebounds, misses, off Kamehameha. This game is a GRIND.
Corner 3 by Kailua’s Everett Torres-Kahapea, 20-16, 1 min left. Kamehameha misses and the Surfriders will hold for the final shot. 3-point wing shot is an air ball.
End Q2: Surfriders 20, Warriors 16.
Q3: Surfriders score on a putback, no box out, to start the second half. Warriors score inside, fullcourt pressure is on. Kailua breaks it, reverse layup in the halfcourt set by Keoni Serikawa.
Kato starting to assert himself again. Drives for a tough layup on the left. Drives for a tough layup on the right, fouled on the play. FT long, KS rebounds, then throws it away. Warriors lead 27-26, 2:35.
Hapaki Kupahu-Phillips hits two FTs, Kailua leads 28-27, 2:22. Time out, Surfriders.
Blaze Guerrero with a great hustle play to save a loose ball, Young scores, 29-28 Warriors. Makana Robson follows with a trey from the top, 31-29, Kailua, :34.
Marrotte at the line after getting fouled on a power move to the hoop. First shot misses. Second good, Kailua 32-29, :02.5
Victorino hits a 25-foot runner from the top at the buzzer. WOH.
End Q3: Warriors 32, Surfriders 32.
Q4: Sideline play is perfect. Marrotte passes to Mejia and cuts. Wide open lane to the basket, but Mejia won’t pass it. He drives right and turns it over. Yikes.
Laamea Frank drills at 15-foot baseline J. Warriors lead 34-32. Kamehameha gets the ball under its basket later, inbounds play works nicely except Frank commits a moving screen.
Marrotte with a 27-foot shot that’s short and the Warriors are off to the races. Kato drives hard and Marotte fouls him. Kato hits the first FT, 35-32, 6:12. Time out, Kailua.
Mejia hits an elbow jumper, but Kamehameha executes its motion game so fluidly, easy layup, 38-34. Turnover Kailua. Missed shot, Kailua, Warriors ball.
Kama Kamaka drives hard and gets fouled by Mejia, who was trying to take a charge. This is Mejia’s fourth foul. Kamaka misses the first, misses the second.
Torres-Kahapea fouled on a 3-point shot by Kato, 3:38. The sophomore makes two of three, 38-36.
Fullcourt press, Young deflects a Kailua pass, turnover. Young misses a straightaway 3, Kamehameha offensive board. Kato pumps once, twice, draws a foul near the elbow, 2:45, makes the first FT, 39-36. Second FT good, 40-36.
Press is lethal. Sideline pass is tipped and the Warriors have it. Young drives baseline, fouled on a reverse attempt, 2:31. Makes the first FT, 41-36. Second FT long, Warriors bat it back and get the ball. Huge.
Turnover by Kamehameha on a screen, Kailua pushes and Mejia misses from the elbow. He gets tangled up with big Nakoa Pauole, Kamehameha rebounds. Mejia is called for a foul, his fifth. He is incensed, yells at the official after their arms untangle. The official calls him for a technical foul. Mejia still hot and the official blows his whistle again, throws Mejia out, though he’s already disqualified. 1:52, Kato sinks the first person-foul FT, 42-36. Second shot good, 43-36. Kato will shoot the technicals. First one good, second one good. Four in a row, Warriors up 45-36.
Christmas Togiai to the FT line, hits the 1-and-1, 1:24, 46-36. Hits the second. Clutch FT shooting by Kamehameha.
Kato nails a corner 3, icing on the cake with :25 left. KS leads 50-36.
End Q4: Kamehameha 50, Kailua 38.
An emotional championship win for the Warriors, and especially Coach Tacon, whose sister passed away this week.