The ‘Iolani Raiders are just a little more patient than most teams.
Their timing, though, is just right. Frank Felix dropped three first-half 3-point bombs and finished with 17 points as ‘Iolani defeated St. Francis 53-37 in the final of the Surfrider Holiday Hoops Classic on Saturday night.
Kawika Lee added 13 points, including 6-for-6 shooting at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. Another returnee, Noah Bumanglag, hit both of his 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 12 points. The Raiders hadn’t played a game until Thursday’s opening round at the tournament, but had the look of a team in midseason form. They ousted Waipahu 82-39 and Roosevelt 68-48 to reach the final.
Patience was especially key against St. Francis’ defense.
“We don’t really have a zone offense (yet), but we had to play zone offense for two nights. So it’s a great practice for us against it. We were very fortunate to hit shots and that seems to make everything better,” Raiders coach Dean Shimamoto said.
The Raiders hadn’t played a game before the tourney, but were excellent in transition defense. The level of play was boosted by the return of football players to the lineup.
“We got our (football) guys early and they were able to get into basketball shape. That was the fortunate part,” Shimamoto said. “They were used to playing, two weeks straight, two-hour practices going just as hard. I think this may have been easier as far as conditioning.”
The Raiders also crashed the offensive boards to get a major advantage.
‘Iolani’s man defense was consistent enough to limit Kordel Ng, who is dealing with an injured right pinky finger, to 13 points. It was straight man defense with a variety of defenders on the explosive junior.
“During the year, we’ll have schemes, I’m sure. We’ll have a bigger sample size of what they do and try to scout them better, but at this point, we want our guys to get comfortable. It’s too early in the preseason for us to try to change up,” Shimamoto said. “Everybody guarded him a little bit. The way we pick up and rotate, it could be anyone.”
Ng was the only Saint in double figures one night after they pulled out a wild 87-78 double-overtime win over host Kailua. Kameron Ng watched the title game from the bench and had crutches to get around after injuring an ankle in the semifinal round.
“The other guys are very capable of making shots. If Kordel is attacking and Kam is drawing all the attention, it makes it a lot easier for their other guys to make shots,” Shimamoto noted. “We just want to make them work, for the most part. We want to use 10 guys and they’ll work hard, and hopefully, the other team gets tired.”
When the teams meet again, it will be during the ILH Division I regular season as St. Francis makes a move up from D-II. For now, the Raiders are 3-0 and, strangely, a bit off the radar. Damien and Punahou won tournaments prior to the Surfrider Classic.
“Absolutely. I think our guys are hungry. Last year, we didn’t make the state tournament and the senior guards we have are three- and four-year guys. They don’t want to go out that way. They want to have a great finish,” Shimamoto said.