Nanakuli big man puts roadblock on Radford

0120-21

Story and photo by Randy Dela Cruz

Sports Editor, Ho‘okele

After winning two games in a row, the Adm. Arthur W. Radford High School Rams boys’ varsity basketball team stood only one game away from evening out their record at 4-4.

However, standing in the way of the boys’ third straight victory was the towering presence of 6-foot-8-inch Nanakuli High School post-player Carlos Brown, who used every inch of his height to dominate the paint and lead the Golden Hawks to a home 55-47 victory Jan. 17 in a battle of OIA Division I teams.

Brown saved his best game of the season for the visiting Rams, as the senior center scored 20 points on a variety of put-backs and close-range shots under the basket.

Radford started off the showdown on a high note, when the team went on a 9-0 run to close out the first quarter to take a double-digit lead at 17-7.

Rams guard Santiago Calloway came off the bench and ignited the run by scoring five straight points on two baskets and a free throw.

In the second quarter, the team didn’t score a basket until 3:13 had ticked off the clock, when center Jordan Pinder scored on a lay-up.

Still, despite the short dry spell, the Rams went back up by 10, 24-14, on a trey by guard Christian Cristobal at the 4:10 mark.

Instead of protecting the lead going into the half, the Rams seemed to lose momentum, while the Golden Hawks started to score at will.

When Brown scored on a lay-up with 19 seconds remaining in the second quarter, the basket topped off a 10-1 run by Nanakuli that saw the home team cut the lead down to a single point at 25-24.

“We just didn’t get anything going on offense,” said Rams head coach Travis Armstrong about losing two 10-point leads in the first half. “We wasn’t running our offense, wasn’t patient and wasn’t moving the ball. They (Golden Hawks) kind of clogged in it and we just didn’t move the ball well enough on offense to keep the scoring going.”

To make matter worse, Armstrong said that Nanakuli figured out the Rams press, which was the main reason for Radford’s 9-0 run in the first quarter.

The back-and-forth contest continued in the second half, as both teams were deadlocked at 30-30 with 5:47 remaining in the third quarter.

At that point, the Rams offense seemed to go into hibernation, while Brown was just warming up.

The Golden Hawks big man scored three baskets in a row on three possessions to give Nanakuli a 36-30 advantage.

“We didn’t need to do the things we needed to do,” said Armstrong about the team’s inability to corral Brown. “But he (Brown) played a hell of a game. He definitely dominated us on the boards and made a ton of inside shots.”

Then on the next trip down the floor, Nanakuli guard Moustapha Wagne set up just beyond the arc and sank a trey to up the team’s lead to 39-30.

Radford did manage to get back into the game on five straight points by Jamar Hill that cut the lead down to two points at 49-47 with only 1:26 left in the game.

However, Brown wasn’t about to let this one get away from Nanakuli, as the big man sank two free throws with 34 seconds to ice the game away.

One bright note for the Rams was the return of Pinder, who sat out the last two games with a concussion.

Pinder, who started off the year with highs of 20 and 18 points, wasn’t back to his old self, but he still contributed six in the defeat.

“It feels good to be back on the team,” said Pinder, an Army family member, who is only a junior. “I was feeling a little bit dazed out by the concussion, but I’m trying to get back.”

The loss to Nanakuli may have stranded Radford outside of the playoffs with only two games to go in their regular season.

Back-to-back wins would give the team a 5-5 record, but the Rams are a long shot to make the postseason as the sixth and final seed from the OIA West.

“We’re not back to full strength,” Armstrong said. “We haven’t been at full strength all year, but they (Rams) won’t quit. No matter what the score is, they won’t quit.”

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Category: Sports