The Farrington Governors are doing it quietly and effectively.
The Govs shot 76 percent from the free-throw line and got a monster game from Raefe McEnroe — 16 points, 17 rebounds, five assists and four blocks — in a stunning 59-55 win over No. 7 Moanalua on Friday night. It was a loud audience at Richard Kitamura Fieldhouse with roughly one-third of them cheering for the visiting Na Menehune. The visitors’ decibel level was as high as the home crowd’s volume.
It was the Oahu Interscholastic Association East Division opener for both teams. Center Christian Havea tallied 13 points and Aaron Bagaoisan added 12 points, including three key buckets and a crucial offensive rebound tip late in the game, for the Govs (6-6 overall). Farrington looked nothing like a team playing in Division II after outrebounding the talented Na Menehune 42-31.
“I’m happy. We’ve been practicing to deal with these kinds of teams,” said McEnroe, a 6-foot-3 senior who put his full skill set to use. “We’re looked down on in the rankings. We wanted to play and show these people that we’re not some D-II team that sucks. We came to play and we’re pursuing that victory.”
Geremy Robinson led Moanalua (7-6 overall) with 17 points and nine rebounds, but he and his teammates struggled mightily from the foul line. The normally precise junior was 4-for-14 at the stripe and his team as a whole shot just 10-for-28 there, 36 percent. The visitors also shot a cold 3-for-17 from the 3-point arc.
“We’ve got to make free throws,” Na Menehune coach Byron Mello said.
And that’s all he needed to say. Moanalua had only six turnovers, including none in the final eight minutes. That’s the kind of measurement that leads to a victory. But nothing seemed to go right every time the visitors seemed to have some momentum.
Meanwhile, Farrington used a box-and-one defense on Robinson.
“We used it last year against Kailua and Everett (Torres-Kahapea),” Govs guard Felcris Ahadain recalled.
Like that game, Farrington emerged victorious with the defensive tactic. Bagaoisan was the defender who smothered Robinson much of the night, and Robinson 6-for-14 from the field.
“He’s my defensive specialist. He and Modesto (Bacaltos),” said Leopoldo, who had specific instructions for Bagaoisan. “Don’t even look for the ball. Don’t even look for the ball.”
Robinson made his first three shots, all on slashing drives to the rim, but he missed his first seven free-throw attempts.
“Any box is going to frustrate any player, especially with a player this talented. Fortunately for us, he was flustered,” Farrington coach Steven Leopoldo said. “That’s part of the game plan we went with. He stood out there and took himself out of the game. Fortunately, his teammates’ shots weren’t falling.”
Meanwhile, the Governors seemed comfortable enough against Moanalua’s man defense, grabbing 13 offensive boards — nine in the second half. The also spent the last two days pumping up a ton of free throws at practice.
“After every drill, six to eight free throws for everybody,” said Ahadain, a senior. “We shot around 100 (each) free throws yesterday.”
Leopoldo put a heavy accent on the charity shots and will continue to do so.
“I told them, we’re going to live and die by free throws. Two things will win us a championships: defense and free throws,” he said.
The game was close from the opening tip with four lead changes in the first quarter. Moanalua’s 9-0 run, including a steal for a basket by Robinson and two field goals by Rocky Ramones, opened the lead to 17-10 late in the first.
Farrington had seven turnovers in the first quarter, but pared that problem down and got six points from Havea, a 6-foot-3 junior, to rally in the second period. Havea’s layup on a pass from Ahadain gave Farrington the lead before the half, 29-28. Moanalua was 2-for-11 at the charity stripe before intermission.
The lead changed hands two more times in the third stanza before Johnson Bautista found McEnroe open for a layup and a 33-32 Governors lead. They never trailed again.
McEnroe scored six points in the third as Farrington went without a single giveaway. The home team opened its largest lead, 48-40, on a layup by Havea. Isaiah Sugiura splashed a step-back 3 to spark an 8-4 mini-run by Moanalua.
Down 52-48 with 1 minute left, Robinson limped to the sideline with a cramp in his calf. Aeman Kurt Castro hit two foul shots for Farrington, but DiAeris McRaven hustled for a putback to keep Moanalua within four points with 44.1 seconds remaining.
After Sugiura missed a long 3, McEnroe sank one of two foul shots for a 55-50 lead with 31 ticks left. Robinson drew contact on a 3-point shot that was on line, but long. With 14.1 seconds to go, he made the first two free throws, then missed the third.
Have a sank the front end of a crucial one-and-one for a 56-52 Farrington lead with 12.9 seconds to play. On the second shot, Bagaoisan leaped and tipped the ball to teammates near halfcourt. Castro went to the line and made one of two attempts for a five-point lead with 10.3 seconds remaining.
Ramones missed a 3-point try and McEnroe made two free throws for a 59-52 lead with 4.5 seconds left. Sugiura closed out the scoring with a long 3 at the buzzer.
It’s game one out of 12 regular-season contests. Is it possible D-II Farrington will emerge as one of the best teams in the OIA regardless of classification? Leopoldo is only looking one game ahead.
“We’re going to take every game like we’re a D-I team. We’re going to let them know where we’re from, what kind of team we have,” he said.
The development of his team, top to bottom, has been steady since early preseason. McEnroe, in particular, has become a major force.
“Now that he’s shown up, keep going. Be the leader out there,” Leopoldo said. “He goes at his own pace.”
Farrington’s next game is on Wednesday at McKinley. Also on Wednesday, Moanalua will host Kaimuki.
Moanalua (7-6, 0-1) 17 11 9 18 — 55
Farrington (6-6, 1-0) 13 16 11 19 — 59
Moanalua: Isaiah Sugiura 12, CJ Bonilla 5, Rocky Ramones 7, DiAeris McRaven 6, Geremy Robinson 17, Kyle Hughley 4, Elijah McGruder 4.
Farrington: Johnsen Bautista 3, Felcris Ahadain 5, Modesto Bacaltos 0, Aaron Bagaoisan 12, Temen Kurt Castro 9, Raefe McEnroe 16, Randy Wong 0, Pono Roberts 1, Christian Havea 13.
3-point goals—Moanalua 3 (Sugiura 2, Robinson), Farrington 4 (Castro 2, Bautista, McEnroe).