By Paul Honda
Twelve turnovers for Farrington.
Twenty-four by Roosevelt.
That’s your ballgame, folks. The Rough Riders came to Farrington with a huge opportunity to establish its place in the pecking order of the Oahu Interscholastic Association girls basketball race. But after all those giveaways, Roosevelt was still in position to tie the game in the final seconds … which is when it became obvious that the Rough Riders are just a wee bit inexperienced in a matchup of elites like this.
Not to worry, Rough Rider faithful. Last night’s 53-50 loss certainly hurt some, but it just means Farrington is in first (8-0) while Roosevelt (7-1) can look forward to A) fighting off the rest of the OIA Red East and B) a home matchup with the same Lady Governors. Even then, the OIA regular season is all about positioning, seeding … it’s basically Pool Play, not much different from World Cup soccer or the basketball format at the Olympics.
But in terms of emotion and momentum, Farrington seized the day, and it was done with defense. Fourteen steals, including seven by scoring machine Brydgette Tatupu-Leopoldo, against a normally good ballhandling team in Roosevelt — impressive.
“I’m surprised we got that many steals,” Tatupu-Leopoldo said, “but every game has been like that. We play defense, but we get outrebounded.”
The Govs lost the battle on the boards 31-19, a stunning statistic considering the substantial size difference of the teams. Tatupu-Leopoldo, a savvy junior and daughter of former Farrington standout Steven Leopoldo, took the ball to the rack against Roosevelt’s go-to scorer, Mikela Thoemmes, and drew one of the fouls that got Thoemmes in foul trouble.
“We were looking for opportunities to take it to the hole when they came out and pressured us hard,” BTL said. “We knew how ‘Kela plays already, so we knew we had to get in her head and get her frustrated.”
Despite sitting the entire second quarter and chunks of the second half, Thoemmes finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds.
“We wanted to pound the ball inside when she wasn’t there,” Tatupu-Leopoldo added, “but we didn’t do that much.”
While she sat that second quarter, Nicole Ramirez (14 points) caught fire. With her teammates swinging the ball well, Ramirez spotted up and hit all four of her 3-point tries in the quarter. She was, as they say, in the zone.
“My teammates were setting me up great,” the junior said.
The deciding factor in Farrington’s favor was solid play off the bench from four reserves.
“Fresh legs help,” Lady Govs coach Caroline Tatupu said. “All the girls know they have a role and do whatever we ask. We knew Roosevelt would give us a hard time. All I asked is that our girls don’t put too much pressure on themselves.”