Powerful Govs keeping perspective

Hezekiah “Heze” Iaear burned Honokaa for a basket on Wednesday. Photo by Dennis Oda, Star-Advertiser
Hezekiah “Heze” Iaear burned Honokaa for a basket on Wednesday. Photo by Dennis Oda, Star-Advertiser

One season removed from a stunning run to the state championship game, expectations at Farrington High School are bit tempered.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the result. The Governors were overwhelming on Wednesday, rolling to a 77-27 win over Honokaa on the first day of the 16th annual James Alegre Invitational boys basketball tournament.

L.J. Gonzales scored 16 points off the bench as coach Allan Silva put all 16 players to work against a young Honokaa squad. Farrington opened its preseason two nights earlier with an 87-47 home win over Waipahu. That’s 82 points per game in the early going with a group of players that has not played much together yet.

“We’ve won two games, but we’re not there yet,” Silva said.

Kamehameha transfer Jake Smith scored eight points and returning forward Tua Unatoa added seven. St. Francis transfers Keola Kealoha (four points) and Ranan Mamiya (three) also chipped in. That’s quite an influx of talent to replace departed senior graduates like Jacob McEnroe, Isaiah Visoria, Isaiah Smith, Van Hugo, Mason Semisi and Mark Duldulao. That group includes four key guards, all gone.

The first group on Wednesday afternoon at James Alegre Gymnasium was more basic, using halfcourt man-to-man defense to build an 8-4 lead. The second group, including football standouts Montana Liana and Bryce Tatupu-Leopoldo, plus Mamiya and Kealoha, went into furious fullcourt pressure to open the lead to 17-5, forcing Honokaa coach Jayme Carvalho to burn two time outs.

“We’re trying to perfect our offense and defense,” Silva said as his team dined on a post-game meal provided by the tournament. “I liked out hustle. All 16 guys hustled today.”

By halftime, the Govs were in command, 45-13.

The Farrington bench, as expected in week 2 of preseason, more cohesive, using a fullcourt press to turn the game into a runaway. Ton Selga was one of the key contributors to the reserve group, which is made up of returnees and new players up from the JV. They looked like they’d played together for years.

“I wanted the first group to focus on offense. Our other guys can go in and we don’t lose anything,” Silva said.

It’s much the same system, the same sets that Farrington fans have seen Silva’s squads use over the years. The high- and low-post sets that favor mobile post scorers. Last year, it was often McEnroe. This year, it looks to be Unutoa, a burly 5-foot-11 scorer who has 3-point range.

“We’ve got to get a lot more ball movement,” the senior said. “We had too many missed layups and too many turnovers.”

Kea Callihan, a 6-foot-1 sophomore, led Honokaa with nine points. Senior Shyrome Batin added eight points for Carvalho’s youthful squad. Five of the 11 Dragons are freshmen or sophomores.

The new pre-set schedule of the Alegre Invitational means a bigger field — 10 teams, including ILH powerhouse Punahou and Hayward (Calif.) — and a bye day for Farrington. On Friday, the Governors will meet Saint Louis I-AA, and on Saturday they’ll battle Punahou.
Unutoa doesn’t expect a letdown on Friday against Saint Louis I-AA.

“We’ve got to go one game at a time,” he said. “And not focus on another game.”

Silva led the Governors to a D-II state title three years ago.

“You know how I feel about D-II. We’ll focus on Saint Louis (I-AA). Division doesn’t matter. Anything can happen on any given night,” he said.


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