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Game of the Week
Michael Lasquero | ScoringLiveJanuary 23, 2019, 11:30pm
Wed, Jan 23, 2019 @ McKinley
KAKAAKO — The McKinley boys basketball team played with a sense of urgency Wednesday night.
The Tigers jumped out to an early 9-0 lead and junior Frank Camacho poured in a game-high 18 points as McKinley defeated visiting Kalani, 39-22, in a wire-to-wire win at Student Council Gymnasium.
It was a much-needed victory for the Tigers (5-17 overall, 3-5 league), who entered the matchup in last place of the OIA Division-I East standings. Since six of seven D1 teams in the East make the playoffs, McKinley now controls its own destiny with three games remaining in the regular season, which includes a home game against Kalaheo (3-5 OIA East).
"We're kind of on the bottom looking up so I told the kids we might as well have fun, I think that's the No. 1 thing," said McKinley coach Duane Omori. "No. 2 is give it our best effort and compete and see how the thing goes. I'm very happy with the boys. It's not easy to have a losing season and come out with the intensity that we came out tonight."
Camacho got things going early with two tough drives into the lane for a quick lead. Araby Abdel-Jawad tripled the Tigers' lead before Aaron Kwon scored on a putback with the and one with 5:16 to play in the opening period.
"We're not the most athletic team so we can't just come back from a deficit," Omori said. "We have to get good starts. We're fortunate that they shot the ball well."
Javan Montiho knocked down a triple after a Kalani timeout to get the Falcons on the board, but that was all the scoring the visitors would do in the first stanza. McKinley utilized a hybrid defense that utilized man-to-man and trapping concepts on drives to the lane within a 3-2 defensive zone look to take a 16-3 lead into the second quarter.
"We just wanted to put a little bit more pressure," Omori explained. "They're just a skilled team and if they're allowed the time, they can move the ball so well."
The Tigers also sacrificed their bodies on defense as they drew five offensive fouls in the game, four of which came in the first half. Kalani center Brandon Chung, who entered the contest averaging 12.8 points per game, had two charges called against him in the opening quarter and finished with a season-low four points as he spent most of the game on the bench in foul trouble.
Kalani guard Isaiah Lee picked up the slack with 14 points, but the Tigers made him work for every point.
"Brandon is such a great player and Isaiah is another one for them. That's an offensive weapon on the outside and inside," Omori said. "We took notice that we wanted to get some charges. We're not a very good shot blocking team so we wanted to get those guys in foul trouble."
Lee scored eight of his team-high 14 points in the final period of play, but by then it was already too late. Mckinley took a 27-10 lead at the half and held a 36-14 advantage after three quarters of play as it handed Kalani (5-3 league) its third loss in four games.
While McKinley's defense put a lid on the Falcons' rim, Camacho kept finding ways to score for the Tigers. After scoring in the lane early, the McKinley junior started to torch the net from midrange. He also read the help-defense well and assisted on a pair of corner triples by the Tigers.
"He's been struggling with some injuries, but he's such a great offensive player. He can get a shot off when someone is on him," Omori said of Camacho. "I think we played a more as a team and I think we played a little smarter tonight, and of course Frank's offense helped us to sustain the game."
McKinley travels to Kahuku (5-3 league) next while the Falcons will look to get back on track against Kaiser (5-3 OIA East), who just handed fifth-ranked Farrington (7-1) its first loss in league play. Both games are slated for Saturday.
Twelve student-athletes, including the first from Lanai, will be honored June 2.
The Campbell senior shortstop batted 0.524 through the OIA regular season and playoffs.
The Kailua senior led all Division I pitchers with 72 strikeouts on the year.
The Marauders' third baseman helped the team go undefeated in the regular season.
The Mililani senior outside hitter won the award two years ago as a first-year setter.
Na Menehune senior was a six-rotation player that attacked from all areas of the court.