It wasn’t a perfect day for Briarra Nakihei, but the Castle hoopster breathed a sigh of relief after the Knights pulled out a 63-52 overtime win over Farrington for the OIA Division II girls basketball title on Thursday night.
Nakihei has been a force for the Knights, but her shot didn’t fall often on this night. She shot 3-for-13 from the field, but hustle (eight rebounds) and nonstop pressure defense were crucial from top to bottom for Castle.
So was clutch play. The Knights trailed 44-39 with 1:33 remaining in regulation, but they scrapped and battled back, getting a rainbow 3-point shot from Reilani Roller with 2 seconds left to tie the game at 49, forcing overtime.
By then, the Governors were out of gas. Roller finished with 13 points, adding another 3 in overtime. Rajah Majit-Gorion added 12 points, Noelani Beard had 11 and Nakihei chipped in 10 points. It was a perfect example of a team that doesn’t have to rely on one playmaker.
“Rei does that all the time. She’s a consistent shooter,” Nakihei said.
Roller brought the ball downcourt quickly with her team down 49-46 in the final seconds of regulation.
“I thought about passing to Meleane (Turner),” said Roller, who realized her sharpshooting teammate was not open. “I shot it and I was praying to God it would go in.”
Her shot swished through, sparking a roar by Castle fans. Coach Joseph Lilio found himself jumping up and down on the court as the buzzer sounded.
“Lucky thing the referees didn’t see me. Rei a good shooter and she missed a lot of shots, so I knew something had to drop,” Lilio said.
The OIA title is the first in girls basketball history for Castle. They had to earn this, overcoming 6-for-15 shooting at the free-throw line and 3-for-15 from the field during the final quarter. For the game, the Knights were 19-for-37 at the foul line.
The biggest key: Castle had just 16 turnovers and forced Farrington into 36 giveaways.
Setita Prescott led the tough-luck Lady Govs with 16 points and 16 rebounds.
Farrington (6-8) 12 10 10 17 3 — 52
Castle (17-11) 14 9 12 12 14 — 63
Farrington: Angel Baptista 5, Shaylen Tatupu-Timu 9, MJ Peralta 6, Charmmaine Balala 2, Hikialani Molitau 1, Shayla Cabato-Machado 3, Setita Prescott 16, Angel Tuika-Sagapolutele 6, Maselynn Semisi-Fuamuli 4
Castle: Rajah Majit-Gorion 12, Kelsey Bacoro-Gapol 0, Meleana Turner 3, Lauryn Kong 0, Reilani Roller 13, Nolan Beard 11, Briarra Nakihei 10, Dayzee Wong 2, Holly Quirit 2, Shayla Young 9.
3-point goals: Farrington 1 (Tatupu-Timu), Castle 6 (Roller 2, Majit-Gorion, Turner, Nakihei, Young).