Clearly, Roosevelt is the class of the Oahu Interscholastic Association, that enormous entity also known as the largest and largesse of leagues in the 50th state.
Of course, just because a league is gigantic — 23 girls-basketball playing programs — doesn’t necessarily make it the best league from top to bottom. But among the OIA’s finest, Roosevelt — voted No. 2 in the state by coaches and media — is a step ahead. Literally.
In all, though, it was Roosevelt’s patented and relentless defensive pressure that took a toll. Kaiser finished with 24 turnovers, and when the Cougars got opportunities, their youth showed. The lack of an extra pass. Rushing shots. Settling for mediocre shots. That led to an 11-for-49 night from the field, which is astounding in any format that doesn’t include a shot clock. That’s what the Rough Riders can do to any quality team.
Roosevelt wasn’t perfect, though scoring 61 points on 33-percent shooting is rare. Quinlan (19 points, 12 rebounds, six blocks, four steals and just two turnovers) is the X factor for the Rough Riders. She showed the ability to attack from the low post, and with her shooting touch (3-for-4 from the foul line), Quinlan could become the difference between losing close games in the postseason and winning close games.
The Rough Riders have lacked a consistent source of easy layups and post shots over the largely successful years under coach Hinano Higa. Though Quinlan has a smooth 3-point stroke, where she’s going to be needed most is right there on the low post in a one-point game with 30 seconds left. She’s too quick for the slower bigs, and too tall for the smaller wings who attempt to cover her.
Though Konawaena is a beastly favorite to win the state title — and earned that status with its two wins over nationally-ranked teams in December — every title contender has its weaknesses. Roosevelt’s kryptonite was that lack of scoring punch inside, and there hasn’t been a team completely dependent on perimeter shooting that has won the state title in a long, long time. Roosevelt knows its blueprint quite well, and their senior guards — Starr Rivera, Sharice Kawakami and Kaohi Kapiko — make the machinery flow nicely.
Some final notes.
>> Though they played a solid game, Roosevelt needed 75 shots to score 61 points, which isn’t too bad, but it’s not efficient, either. Forcing 24 turnovers more than made up the difference.
>> Efficiency? Quinlan shot 8-for-16 from the field. The rest of her team shot 17-for-59.
>> In their home gym, Roosevelt shot 3-for-17 from the 3-point arc, partly due to Kaiser’s mix of defenses, including a 1-3-1 look in the second quarter.
>> After that first-quarter flurry, the Rough Riders shot just 2-for-21 in the second quarter. However, they grabbed 10 offensive boards and Kaiser never got closer than five points before the half.
>> Kawakami’s foul trouble didn’t cause a collapse in the first half. Roosevelt had just two turnovers while she sat for most of the first 16 minutes. But she picked a third foul early in the third quarter, and her teammates committed seven giveaways in that period.
>> Roosevelt’s shooting numbers — 25-for-75 from the field, 7-for-15 at the foul line — might be attributed to the energy and excitement of Senior Night. To me, as long as the Rough Riders are dependent on mid-range jump shots, there will be ups and downs. They are so good with the ball fundamentally — many of Higa’s players come from her 808 Basketball club — the Rough Riders could be more patient and settle only for layups and open threes all game long no matter who they play. But that’s not who the Roosevelt Rough Riders are, and for fans of entertaining, fast and sometimes magical basketball, they’re clearly one of the most watchable teams in the state.