KAPALAMA HEIGHTS — As one of the few remaining teams searching for its first win of the regular season season, Mid-Pacific Coach Ryan Hirata described his team as desperate.
His team's play echoed his thoughts.
Led by senior Jacen Kimura's game-winning bucket, the Owls willed their way past Kamehameha, 47-45, in an Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I matchup at Kekuhaupio Gymnasium Wednesday night.
Mid-Pacific (1-2 ILH D1) held a lead for most of the game, but second chance opportunities and accurate free throw shooting from the Warriors (1-2 ILH D1), who went 14-for-19 from the charity stripe, kept the score close.
The Owls held a three-point lead going into the final period of play, but the Warriors used the energy from their home crowd to make a run to start the fourth quarter and never went away.
Lele Kawaiaea hit on a long 2-point attempt to start the period, bringing Kamehameha within one. On the next possession, Kawaiaea snagged a rebound off of the back end of two missed free throws by senior Zion Shepherd and took it coast-to-coast to give his team a one-point lead.
"At that point you're just telling your guys stay in it, you can't be afraid of the moment, you've got to want it," said Hirata.
Mid-Pacific had an answer however, as Kyle Lagana immediately responded with an and-1 layup in transition and finished the three-point play to put his team ahead by two with five minutes remaining.
On the next Warriors' possession, Kamehameha's leading scorer, Kamren Victorino-Kato drove to the basket and drew a foul, sinking both free throws and tying the game at 38 apiece.
Victorino-Kato would immediately get the ball back and draw an intentional foul on the Owls, hitting again on both free throws and maintaining possession.
Mid-Pacific tried to respond, but an emphatic block by Kobe Young stopped a scoring attempt by Kimura, which led to a Mycah Pimental layup for Kamehameha to give the Warriors their largest lead of the night, 42-38.
The momentum had swung in the Warriors' favor, but returning players for the Owls showed their desperation in the closing minutes.
"When games are close like that, you need seniors to step up, and our seniors stepped up," said Hirata. "Just a total team effort tonight, the young guys, all the old guys just stepping up and making the plays necessary to win."
Kimura drove hard to the basket, finishing a layup plus the foul and completed the three-point play to stop the Kamehameha run.
Following the back end of a missed Victorino-Kato free throw, Shepherd drew a foul and hit on two clutch free throws to tie the game at 43. Shepherd finished the game with 10 points.
From there, Kimura took over. Taking the ball from half court, Kimura sank a 15-foot jumper, making it a two point game with under a minute to go. Laamea Frank answered with a transition layup for Kamehameha tying it at 45.
The Owls got the ball back with 40 seconds to go and held it for the final shot. Kimura showed his confidence as he began his attack with 15 seconds left, putting a series of moves on his defender before pulling up and hitting another 15-foot fadeaway jumper to give Mid-Pacific a two point lead with five seconds remaining.
"We knew we wanted the last shot. We've been practicing that all season, we need to work on it still, but I wanted the ball in my hands because you know, coach is confident in me, my team is confident in me and I guess all of the hard work kind of paid off," said Kimura.
Kamehameha would inbound the ball to Victorino-Kato, who made his way past half court but was unable to connect on a long 3-pointer over multiple defenders.
Hirata explained that he's happy with the win, but for him and his team, it's on to the next.
"I think it's a great first step. You know, getting a win at Kamehameha against a really good team coached by Greg Tacon, you got to be happy about it," said Hirata. "But at the same time, you have to go back to the drawing board now. We've got Punahou on Saturday, another great team, ranked in the top 5, so we've got to get ready for that one."
Victorino-Kato led all scorers with 14 points. Colin Ramos led Mid-Pacific with 12 points and Kimura tallied 11.
The Warriors will look to bounce back at Iolani (3-0) Saturday afternoon.
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