Friday, December 23, 2011

MIL Boys JV Basketball: LAHAINALUNA 31, Kamehameha Schools Maui 32 - December 2, 2011

Supposed to be triple-header basketball Upcountry with what I thought was girls' JV basketball versus Kamehameha Schools Maui, followed by the boys' JV basketball team vs. Kamehameha Schools Maui, then drive to Olinda to catch the Lady Lunas against Kalaheo in the Seabury Hall Wahine Classic.

Turns out the girls JV did not have a game. The boys did play. For one half. Then they disappeared in the second half, allowing Kamehameha Schools Maui to come back and win the game. With their inability to beat Baldwin thus far (0-2), and this loss to a beatable Kamehameha team, the JV boys' chances of winning a JV championship has become bleak. Of course, anything can happen in the tournament, but all the roster shuffling, addition of new players, promotion of old players to varsity has eroded whatever chemistry or continuity this team had. Oh well, such is the existence of JV sports. You don't play to win - you play to develop.

Leading scorer Josh Chapital was moved up to varsity. Footballer Amateo Flores was also gone, changing sport to soccer. Starting guard Joshua Corpuz was back in his familiar #24 after being out with a knee injury. And there is a new big man on campus - Sima Galoia. According to Coach Dan, he has good skills for a big man - nice footwork, soft hands and a nice shooting touch.

The boys shot out to a big lead, thanks to a pressing defense that created turnovers and scoring opportunities in transition. The Warriors chipped away at the lead and hung in there, especially when they went with a bigger line-up. The fact that the refs weren't calling palming violations helped the Warriors as their dribbling was blatantly illegal.

Nick Vierra's first half fouls caught up with him in the second half as he sat out a major poriton of it. Which was crucial because with Josh Chapital out of the line-up, Nick is the Lunas' most reliable scorer. Then the guards started committing careless unforced turnovers, prompting the coach to go with a no-guard line up for much of the 3rd and 4th quarter. Ryan Madera did the bulk of the ball-handling, which effectively took away the Lunas' most reliable low post offensive threat. Galoia and Taufa are still a little too raw down low. Agapay and Kama are effective on transition and on weak side play (i.e., offensive rebounds and putbacks) but have difficulty creating their own shots. So the offense became stagnant and the Warriors made a comeback.

The Lunas were down by 1 with less than 20 seconds left. Nick Vierra was back in the game. He drove the length of the court and put up a wild layup. The ball went to the corner, where Cyrus Kama shot up a baseline jumper. He missed and Brandon Agapay flew in from the opposite baseline, went up with 2 or 3 Warrior defenders and somehow tipped the ball back in! Lunas up by one point! Warriors call time out.

That's when the officiating, which was questionable all night (non-calls, buzzers going off for no reason), took a turn for the mysterious. Four seconds were put back on the clock. Then KSM was given the ball side out-of-bounds at halfcourt, even though they called timeout down at the other end. Not sure if NBA rules apply here in the MIL, but shouldn't the ball be taken out at the end line and not mid-court?

Anyway, because of the additional time and shortened distance to travel, the Warriors were able to throw the ball in, get off a three point attempt - which missed and bounced very high off the rim - which was rebounded by a Warrior on the opposite baseline who threw the ball back up . . . and in. Not sure if the ball left his hands in time but the ref sure enjoyed calling that basket good. So within a matter of two plays, the Lunas went from joy and ecstasy to shock and disappointment.

Otherwise, it was an exciting game and with an exciting ending. The good guys lost, but the way they played and missed free throws, it should not have been close to begin with. Lessons to be learned. Tomorrow night they play Baldwin, so they better have their A-game on or it will be a long night.

More photos can be found here.

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