When Kamehameha hosted Roosevelt on Saturday, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the Warriors, who are down to three seniors with the graduation of several key players, including Alohi Robins-Hardy and Tiare Kanoa.
But Roosevelt didn’t have it easy at all. They looked quicker, more cohesive and sharper in the early going and led 15-9.
From there, points were hard to come by in the paint against a taller, bigger, stronger Kamehameha interior defense. But Roosevelt never lost control, even with a mini-flurry of turnovers early in the third quarter, en route to a 47-42 road win. They’ve been through so many battles in the past few seasons, and this group of guards and forwards — they really don’t have a true center — finds ways to win.
“We got the ‘W’, but we have a lot of things to work on, like on the wing, when to pressure, making adjustments and dictating everything instead of the opponent dictating what we do,” coach Hinano Higa said. “It’s still a work in progress.”
Normally, that starts with defense. Alliyah Gabriel, Ka‘onohi Quinlan and the rest of a swarming Roosevelt defense — straight halfcourt man plus fullcourt pressure much of the time — were big for Higa today. That quickness and aggression are vital for the Rough Riders, who barely had second chances on the offensive glass.
“We started off really well with the (defensive) pressure,” Higa said.
Between Starr Rivera and Sharice Kawakami, Roosevelt has one of the top backcourts in the state.
Higa has some very intriguing pieces to the puzzle, and at 4-0, it may not seem like it’s a maze of mystery. But the Rough Riders clearly have advantages with ballhandling, 3-point shooting, spacing (experience) and stellar on-ball defense from start to finish. They aren’t going to stop many big teams inside; Keala Quinlan is still a stretch 4 or 5 who is more a finesse player than a bruiser.
Sure, strong post play helps any team in the postseason, but right now, it’s tough to think of more than a few teams capable of really pushing Roosevelt into the land of defeat.