By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
In the 1960s and ’70s, a slender guard named Jerry West became famous for hitting game-winning shots for the Los Angeles Lakers and earned the nickname “Mr. Clutch.”
And on Friday night, Kamehameha’s “Mr Clutch,” Shaun Kagawa, used an old school basketball move patented by the former Lakers’ superstar back in the day to help propel the Warriors to a 44-42 overtime win over the host Cougars at the Keaau High School Gym.
The fired-up Cougars (2-1) outplayed the Warriors (3-1) for much of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation boys Division I game and appeared on the edge of a victory when junior Ayhns Ines sank a free throw to give the hosts a 40-38 lead with 7.8 seconds remaining in regulation.
But Kamehameha got the ball back and head coach Dominic Pacheco called time out to set up a play with Kagawa, a 5-foot-11 senior guard, taking the final shot.
When Kagawa caught the inbounds pass, his first option was to drive to the basket, hoping to score or pick up a foul. However, the Cougars’ defense shut off the driving lane and Kawaga dribbled hard to his right at the top of the key, then took an angle toward the rim, only to stop on a dime and drain a clutch 15-foot jumpshot just before the buzzer to tie the contest at 40-40 and force OT.
Asked how the textbook perfect looking shot felt when it left his hand with the game on the line, Kagawa smiled and said: “It felt like money.”
“That’s a shot I practice all the time in practice and it’s something I need to do more in the games,” he said. “I was in good balance and it felt good all the way.”
The 15-foot jumper, a clutch move that helped make West famous and earned him the respect to become the player silhouette on the NBA logo. If Kagawa keeps making those types of shots this season, maybe he’ll get his own Warriors logo with “Mr. Clutch” embroidered on it.
Still, Kagawa’s shot didn’t beat Keaau. But it did push the game into OT and gave the Warriors a chance to deny the Cougars an impressive win.
“It was an ugly game,” Pacheco said. “But we knew once we got into overtime that the team who took care of the ball, who executed better, and who made the defensive stops would win. And we were able to do that in OT.”
Kamehameha grabbed a 42-40 lead at the 2:44 mark in the extra session when junior guard Blaine-Allen Manliguis tossed a clever no-look pass to an open Micah Carter under the basket and Carter banked in the layup.
Keaau answered with two clutch free throws by senior Nick Pagtama with 1:32 left. But the Warriors came back and junior Faaolaina Teofilo powered inside for a layup to lift the visitors back on top at 44-42 at :54.
The Cougars ran the clock down against Kamehameha’s zone defense before calling time out with 8.6 seconds to set up a final shot. Keaau coach Mark Kawaha then watched as his players passed the ball around before senior guard Davin Alviento missed a long 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.
“I’m proud of my team and how hard the guys played,” Kawaha said. “Hopefully we can learn from this and get better.”
The Cougars led 10-9 at the end of the first quarter and the game was tied 19-19 at the intermission. The hosts then outpointed their Keaau rivals 7-5 in the third period before the Warriors held a 16-14 advantage in the fourth quarter, capped by Kagawa’s old school move that can win championships.
Kagawa finished with a game-high 17 points, including 11 in the fourth period.
Carter, a 5-11 junior forward, chipped in with 10 points. Manliguis had only two points but he turned in a strong game handling the ball and playing defense against the quick Cougar guards.
Pagtama led Keaau with 15 points, including 11 in the second half. Sean Stone, a muscular 6-2 senior power forward, had seven points and nine rebounds. Charlie Belmes, a junior guard with a sweet shooting stroke, added five points, including a 3-pointer.
Kawaha also got solid performances from guards Alviento and Ines as well as forward Edgar Ventura.
The Cougars struggled scoring in the paint most of the way, missing at least eight to 10 shots inside four feet while failing to use the backboard and instead coming up short. The hosts also went 9 for 17 from the free-throw line, including a shaky 6 of 12 in the fourth period.
The Warriors finished 9 of 15 from the charity stripe, including 4 of 6 in the final period.
In other Big Island Interscholastic Federation boys basketball games on Friday, it was: Hilo 68, Ka’u 42; Waiakea 55, Pahoa 41; and Honokaa 35, Kealakehe 31.
In junior-varsity game, Kamehameha rallied past the Cougars 44-42. Maika Penaroza had nine points and Dayson Alip seven for the visitors. Kahaku Lum Ho led the hosts with nine points and Charles Caldwell added seven.
Kamehameha 9 10 5 16 4 — 44
Keaau 10 9 7 14 2 — 42
• Hilo: 68, Ka’u 42: Junior Jodd Carter scored 13 points and senior Kian Kurokawa added 11 at Hilo Civic for the Vikings (3-0).
Greg Javar scored a game-high 17 points for the Trojans (1-3).
Hilo won the JV game 62-14. Dane Foster had 17 points and Sione Atuekaho 10. Chance Emmsley-Ahia led the Trojans with 11 points.
Ka’u 10 12 8 12—42
Hilo 14 16 22 16—68
• Waiakea 55, Pahoa 41: Senior Owen Sandstrom scored 18 points and junior Dillon Rellez added 17 for the host Warriors (2-1).
Senior Nick Fisher scored a game-high 21 points, but the Division II Daggers (1-3) lost their third straight game to a Division I opponent.
Waiakea won the JV game 32-24.
Pahoa 10 8 9 14—41
Waiakea 11 18 12 14 —55
• Honokaa 35, Kealakehe 31: At Kealakehe, senior guard Isaiah Meyer scored 13 points to lead the D-II Dragons (2-1).
Senior Deion Utrera scored nine points to lead the D-I Waveriders (1-3).
In JV action, Kealakehe edged Honokaa 41-35. Arthur Freddy (3 treys) led the hosts with nine points. Shyrome Batin led the Dragons with nine points.
Honokaa 16 13 2 4 — 35
Kealakehe 4 8 8 11 — 31