Roosevelt rallies for White title
• Photo gallery: OIA prep basketball
by Stanley Lee
Advertiser Staff Writer
Late in the game, the Rough Ridders were bound to make a charge.
The Roosevelt boys basketball team started slow and made a big run late in the game — just like it has been doing all season — to beat Kailua, 46-36, in last night's O'ahu Interscholastic Association White Division championship game at McKinley's Student Council Gym.
"We always come out flat," said Roosevelt's Kaipo Pale, who scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. "In the second half, we picked it up."
Roosevelt (12-2) and Kailua (12-4) have both qualified for next week's Division II state championships.
Kailua led by a small margin throughout the game and grounded Roosevelt's running game to a halt. The Surfriders' inside game also stopped Pale. Roosevelt coach Steve Hathaway reminded his team to be patient and that things would slowly open up. It finally did in the fourth quarter when the Rough Riders outscored the Surfriders, 19-6. Roosevelt's man-to-man defense held Kailua to just one field goal in the fourth.
"I told them to keep running, we got to try to get them to run," Hathaway said. "I think the fourth quarter, they (Kailua) wore down a little bit."
Brendan Nakatani baseline jumper put the Rough Riders up 31-30 at the beginning of the fourth quarter for his team's first lead of the game. Corey Lau's basket put Kailua ahead 32-31 with 6:14 left, but Roosevelt scored the next six points, capped by Pale's 3-point play, for a 37-32 lead.
Kailua cut the deficit to four twice, but Pale hit back-to-back shots to open the lead to 43-36 with 2:00 remaining.
"We kind of knew they were going to contain the inside and clog the middle, so coaches told the guards to attack, attack and attack and get them to loosen up, which really helped me open up," said Pale, a 6-foot-3 post player. "Our game is to run, we just had to get back to that and make them tired and play our game."
Nakatani added 12 points in the win, and Hathaway praised shooting guard Brandon Mitchell after he was moved to the point guard position for last night's game.
"He didn't get his points but he did everything he needed to do," Hathaway said.
Lau had 13 points for the Surfriders, last year's Division II state champion. Post player Jordan DeCorte added 12 points after owning the inside for most of the game.
"He's pretty tough 'cause he's big," Pale said. "He's a good player."
The Division II state tournament, which starts Thursday with quarterfinal games at Farrington and Kalani, has been scaled down from 12 to eight teams this season. Other qualifiers are St. Joseph and Pāhoa from the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, Seabury Hall from the Maui Interscholastic League and Kapa'a from the Kaua'i Interscholastic Federation. University High, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion, is also in. The ILH's second and final berth will be determined in tomorrow's postseason tournament final.
"I think Kailua is going to be right there at the end of the state tournament," Hathaway said. "Across the board, they're bigger than us. Their point guard (Lau) is probably faster than any guy on our team.
"Last year they beat us five times. This year, to come back and win the games like we have and to win the titles, it gives us a lot of confidence."
ROOSEVELT (12-2) 10 8 9 19—46
KAILUA (12-4) 14 8 8 6—36
ROOSEVELT — Ese Tago 4, Brandon Mitchell 5, Brendan Nakatani 12, Chase Yogi 2, Johnson Delos Santos 0, Pono Patoc 6, Kaipo Pale 17, Robert Willis 0, Troy Nakasuji 0. Totals 16 14-20 46.
KAILUA — Austin Tilton 0, Rhys Nakakura 3, Corey Lau 13, Luis Valenzuela 2, Ethan Mahaulu 2, Isaiah Vasconcellos 4, John Vave 0, Jordan DeCorte 12. Totals 14 5-8 36.
3-point goals — Roosevelt 0. Kailua 3 (Lau 2, Nakakura 1).