Even on a dark and stormy night, the sky can be filled with shooting stars.
And even in a game that had no bearing on the standings, Kameron Ng brought the full barrage. On St. Francis’ senior night, Ng scored 40 points, including all 14 of his team’s third-quarter points in a 70-41 win over Mid-Pacific on Saturday night.
Ng shot 16-for-31 from the field, including five treys.
Lucca Kitashima led MPI with 17 points and Elijah Kahue-Parker added 10 on a night when reserves played most of the minutes. The game plan wasn’t for them to play as much as they did.
“We don’t want to play like that. It’s painful the way we started the game down 13-0,” assistant coach Robert Shklov said. “We put our reserves in a tough spot. Now we have four or five days to rest and prepare for the playoffs.”
Ng and his teammates had no lack of intensity and energy even though St. Francis already had the fourth seed in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu locked up.
“I want to be on the court all the time. It’s why I play the game,” Ng said. “Before the game I was talking to my guys, our seniors especially, it’s senior night, go out there and bang. They just did a good job of finding me when I was open, letting me keep shooting the ball.”
His younger brother, Kordel, was in distribution mode, feeding older brother on a few buckets, including a smooth backdoor cut during that hot third quarter.
The senior group of Titus Liu, Matt Reisert, Kawena Fernandez, Jett Tanuvasa, Konner Uratsuka and Ng was beaming as family and friends doled out hugs and lei after the game.
For his senior-night shot, Tanuvasa fed younger sister Jalen for a 3-point shot. It’s a role Tanuvasa has embraced, a scorer who has been more of a distributor and defensive menace on a talented roster.
“It was more than just a game. I’ve played with some of these guys since I was 7, 8 years old. This season was a journey, up and down,” Tanuvasa said. “This was more deep and emotional. These guys are my brothers. Throughout the whole season, they were there for me. Any trials and tribulations we went through, we went through together.”
Liu, who finished with nine points against MPI, Tanuvasa and Ng are season-long starters.. Reisert, Fernandez and Uratsuka see spot duty, but provide value in other ways, too.
“My brothers. Those guys are the reason why our team goes. They come to practice every day. They help us with the little things. They push us as a scout team,” Ng said.
The Saints are always upbeat. Liu was loose and aggressive.
“We wanted to play. Senior night, that’s why,” he said. “This is our last regular-season game, so I wanted to come out and play my hardest. Everybody was just playing hard, playing together, wanting the win.”
There’s no talk about the school’s impending closure at the high school and middle school levels, or the football team’s nightmare in the fall when an unbeaten season was derailed by off-field issues. The basketball team has been a source of uplifting spirit.
“Since it’s the last (regular-season) basketball game of the school in our home gym ever, that’s special to come out with a win,” Ng said. “I take pride in that. It’s a fun year so far.”
“We all just paid attention to what was happening in front of us,” Tanuvasa added. “Rather than letting everything around bother us.
St. Francis coach Ron Durant and his coaching staff have stayed the course with a resilient group of Saints.
“We’re just enjoying the season. There’s nothing else what we can do, so we’re just having fun.”
Three weeks after rallying for a 71-64 overtime win over Mid-Pacific at Mills Gymnasium, the Saints exploded to the 13-point lead and never looked back.
“I think we came out stronger in the beginning,” Durant said. “That’s what happened earlier in the season. We came out slow in the beginning of the games. If we can stay even with the Punahous, the Maryknolls and the ‘Iolanis at the beginning, we can stay close. When we get down, that’s when we get in trouble.”
The visiting Owls emptied the bench and sat some starters for the rest of the night.
St. Francis entered the week ranked No. 6 after a roller-coaster season laced with injuries to nearly every starter. The Saints played more games in preseason and regular season combined, 35 (with a 20-15 mark), than any other team in the state. At 6-6 in the super-loaded ILH, they will open the playoffs at home against Saint Louis.
Durant is optimistic. His team is as healthy as it has been since the beginning of preseason.
“We’ve been riding momentum. I think we’ve been playing our best basketball in the last week or two. We’re peaking at the right time. Hopefully, it carries over,” he said.
Saint Louis and St. Francis have played three times. The Crusaders won in preseason at the Walter Wong Classic 68-64 in overtime, then defeated the Saints 64-61 in ILH play. St. Francis won the next matchup 56-45 at McCabe Gym.
“We already know playing Saint Louis it’s going to be physical,” Tanuvasa added. “They’re a lot bigger than us, so what we have to do is we’ve got to play smart when we can and make lots passes to get points on the other end. The main thing is we’ve got to stay physical, keep our physicality up because Saint Louis, they’re always going to play hard and fast. They’re mainly a football school, so we have to watch whatever we do.”
The Ng brothers plan on being in the gym on Sunday after the Super Bowl. They literally do not take a day off during the season, and rarely in the offseason. Getting prepared for the playoffs doesn’t end.
“It should be a fun game,” Ng said.
At St. Francis
Mid-Pacific (8-14, 3-9 ILH) 6 7 14 14 — 41
St. Francis (20-15, 6-6 ILH) 23 18 16 13 — 70
MPI: Lucca Kitashima 17, Danton Nitrat 0, Kamana Lapina 3, Colin Ramos 0, Micah Suan 0, Elijah Kahue-Parker 10, Hugh Donlon 2, Cameron Dang 0, Jayden Ramos 2, Benjamin Wong 2, Adonis Espania 0, Jaydon Fahrni 0, Kala Nakaya 5, Cameron Hersh 0.
SF: Kameron Ng 40, Kordel Ng 4, Jett Tanuvasa 0, Titus Liu 9, Chase Akana 0, Jayden Simpliciano 2, Makua Marumoto 0, Konner Uratsuka 0, Noah Mackenzie 2, Kawena Fernandez 0, CJ Guerrero 0, Kalil Sweeney 0, Matt Reisert 2, Nalu Kanalulu 6, Faaope Laloulu 5.
3-point goals: MPI 4 (Kitashima 3, Lapina), SF 8 (Kam. Ng 5, Liu 3).