He is not extremely physical and he doesn’t have a mean streak.
Oscar Cheng just hustles his tail off on every play, and that mentality paid off on Monday night. Cheng’s putback with 1.8 seconds left lifted No. 4 Kahuku over No. 7 Leilehua 59-58 in the semifinals of the OIA playoffs at McKinley Student Council Gymnasium.
Leilehua led 58-57 with a hot shooter, Bernard Tobias, at the free-throw line for a 1-and-1. Tobias had splashed three 3-pointers during the fourth quarter. His foul shot, however, hit the back iron and Cheng hauled the rebound in. He made the quick outlet pass and was the only rebounder on the weak side. Kahuku’s Amari Westmoreland-Vendiola took a 15-footer on the baseline that missed everything, but Cheng was right there for the follow shot.
Oscar Cheng hustles for the putback to give Kahuku 59-58 lead over Leilehua with :01.8 left. @MulesAthletics inbounds pass deflected, ball game. @KahukuSports advances to play @mohsathletics in OIA final. @HawaiiPrepWorld pic.twitter.com/PHPZJ989vK
— Paul Honda (@PupulePaul) February 11, 2020
Cheng finished with 16 points to lead Kahuku (16-5). Most of his points were on plays like the final one.
“I saw it coming and I made sure I got the board and put it right back up. In that situation, I couldn’t think (about the clock). I just had to make the play,” said Cheng, a senior who led Kahuku with 16 points.
“We got the shot (by Kahuku) we wanted, but we didn’t account for the back side,” Leilehua coach Chad Townsend said.
Leilehua called time out, but the long inbounds pass was deflected and time expired.
Kahuku couldn’t have drawn it up better.
“I didn’t want to call a timeout ‘cause I didn’t want them to settle into their press. We kind of struggled all night,” Red Raiders coach Brandyn Akana said. “If (Tobias) was going to miss, I knew we were going to have a good chance to get it down the floor and attack. We were in the bonus. I told the big guys to get the rebound. Amari took a good shot and we got lucky. The ball bounced our way.”
Kahuku (16-5) gets a day of practice on Tuesday before meeting No. 9 Moanalua on Wednesday in the OIA championship game. The Red Raiders edged Moanalua, 63-60, on Jan. 2 in the regular season on the North Shore.
“A lot of stuff we’ve got to work on. Our turnovers. (Leilehua) sped us up and we kind of got into that game, but we need to value the ball a little more. But we stuck with it,” Akana said. “That’s what we thought. We had to grind it out. At the end, we’ll have an opportunity and it happened.”
Cheng, working on his shot since arriving from the Bay Area last summer, was eternally optimistic. With a minute left, trailing by one point, Kahuku chased Leilehua across the court, but with the volume in the gym so loud, one of Kahuku’s young players didn’t hear the bench imploring the team to foul. The clock ran down before Cheng ran all the way to halfcourt to commit the foul on Tobias with 11.4 seconds left. Cheng patted his teammate on the back as they walked back to the bench for a timeout.
“He just made a mistake. We needed to make a quick foul. We’ve just got to have the mindset in those situations, be aware of the clock,” he said.
OIA PlayoffsUpdated: Feb. 12
|2/4||Kapolei (W4)||Kailua (E5)||Kapo, 34-31|
|2/4||Moanalua (E3)||Campbell (W6)||Moan, 56-34|
|2/4||Radford (W3)||Kalani (E6)||Rad, 52-41|
|2/4||Kaiser (E4)||Pearl City (W5)||Kais, 59-38|
|2/5||Kalaheo (E1)||Kapolei||Kalh, 60-39|
|2/5||Mililani (W2)||Moanalua||Moan, 73-48|
|2/5||Kahuku (E2)||Radford||Kah, 69-43|
|2/5||Leilehua (W1)||Kaiser||Lei, 40-39|
|Consolation semifinals—At Higher Seed|
|Semifinals — At McKinley|
|Fifth place—At Higher Seed|
|Third place—At Higher Seed|
|Championship — At McKinley|
|2/4||Waipahu (W2)||Kaimuki (E3)||Kaim, 61-50|
|2/4||McKinley (E2)||Waialua (W3)||McK, 54-33|
|2/5||Roosevelt (E1)||Kaimuki||Roos, 61-54 (OT)|
|2/5||Nanakuli (W1)||McKinley||McK, 40-23|
|Championship— At McKinley|
|* — @ Roosevelt|