Healthy-sized crowd here at Kekuhaupio Gymnasium for a noon showdown between ILH power Kamehameha and OIA power Roosevelt.
Coach Hinano Higa and her team seem pretty loose and focused for this road game. The Rough Riders won three games at the Ted Fukushima Invitational (Kaiser) two weeks ago. I haven’t seen them since, but yes, they are an OIA and state contender.
Kamehameha? This is the post-Aloha Robins-Hardy, post-Tiare Kanoa era. That was a heck of a great team. Two seasons ago, the Warriors edged Konawaena 45-39 in overtime for the state championship. Last year, Kanoa went down with a knee injury at midseason and the Warriors didn’t totally recover, though they were still very competitive.
Now, with new coach Joseph Cho, I don’t know what to expect. Forward Breeann Nueku is back. Good shooter. But this team has just three seniors on the roster, and if they don’t contend as strongly this season, it’s still a chance for Cho to mold this program into exactly what he wants.
Sometimes walking into a program with a lot of seniors presents a unique set of problems. He won’t have a lot of that, if any, just my guess.
And yes, Cho is also the football coach at McKinley. If there’s a non-football coaching position that could be more pressurized than a football-coaching job, it might be Kamehameha basketball — girls or boys.
Tip-off in a minute. Later today, there’s the championship game at the Lee Cashman Invitational (Kalaheo), 2:30 p.m. There’s also an interesting Kailua-‘Iolani matchup at 4 p.m. at the Raiders’ gym.
Warriors finding themselves and Roosevelt’s man defense plus fullcourt pressure isn’t making it easy. Sophomore Mikiala Maio is strong to the basket, running the point. Roosevelt got a couple of early treys to open an 8-3 lead. They’re running, applying defensive pressure all over the floor. The usual Rough Riders. Roosevelt too much hacking on the pressure defense, committed its seventh foul with :10 left in the quarter. ROOS 15, KS 9, end first quarter.
Three-pointer from the right wing by Krista-Denise Matsumura gave the Warriors a spark. They’re within 15-12, ROOS time out.
Warriors came back to tie it at 18, Alliyah Gabriel banked in a 3 and scored off a steal for the Rough Riders. She hit another trey – without glass — to open the lead to 26-20.
Brooke Kaawa with mid-range bank shot from straight away, then a nice power move for a 6-foot post shot to tie the game at 26. Kamehameha’s size advantage is a factor; Roosevelt isn’t getting anything in the low post, no offensive boards.
Matsumura is at it again, driving for a layup to give KS a 28-26 lead with 5:00 to go in the third. The lead was short-lived. Roosevelt went on a mini-run for a 33-28 lead, getting a straightaway 3 from Sharice Kawakami. Kamehameha scored inside to cut it to 33-32, but Starr Rivera hit a trey and Ashley Kiko scored on a drive for a 38-32 lead with :34 left in the third.
Kamehameha dribbled the clock out. Nobody on the bench counted down the game clock. Bench could’ve helped a lot there. Aleki his one of two shots.
River hits two FTs, but the second is wiped out by a ROOS lane violation.
Gabriel doing more good things for the Rough Riders. Steal in the passing lane, feed to Keala Quinlan for a bucket. Time out, KS. Roosevelt leads 40-34.
Ka‘onohi Quinlan with a steal and bucket for ROOS, but Matsumura swishes a corner 3 to bring the Warriors within 42-37. Kaawa’s follow shot makes it 42-39. Keala Quinlan‘s 22-footer from the top is blocked by Shantel Aleki, but the Warriors are whistled for an offensive foul on the low post.
Kawakami with a drive left, then a Rubio-esque no-look pass to Quinlan on the right for a layup. Roosevelt leads 44-39, 1:39 left.
Another turnover by KS, this time on an entry pass from the top of the key to the left block. Bad angle, easy steal. ROOS hits two foul shots to open the lead to 46-39. Aleki misses a putback, hustles and gets fouled on her second try. Kawakami fouls out. Says a lot when their smallest player is battling under the boards against the bigs and has no choice but to foul out.