By Brian McInnis
Now that's more like it.
The first round of Tuesday's College Summer League playoffs offered two of the more exciting games all season at the Manoa District Park gym.
"It's playoffs. Even in the Manoa league it gets intense," UH senior Hauns Brereton said after dropping 43 points for Central Medical Clinic.
Sixth-seeded CMC stunned No. 3 Grantco Pacific 105-104 with a Hail Mary play in the first quarterfinal. Then No. 4 National Fire Protection beat No. 5 Wealth Strategy 100-89 in overtime when Isaac Fotu took over in the extra period.
CMC plays second-seeded Solar Universe in the 6 p.m. semifinal on Thursday. National Fire follows against top-seeded Flipbooks Hawaii at 7:30.
In Game 1 on Tuesday, Grantco was in great position after two free throws with 2.5 seconds left had it up 104-102. But CMC used a timeout to diagram a play to lob the ball up past midcourt — and quickly called timeout again, losing only a couple tenths of a second off the clock. Then a lob play was drawn up for Brad Anderson near the rim, and he got fouled and completed the three-point play for the stunning win.
"It was pretty fun. They were up two and in 2.5 seconds we had to go the length of the floor," Brereton said. "Luckily we drew up a play for a lob, and he caught it and got the and-1. Nailed the free throw, and we won, luckily. It was fun though, fun getting intense in the playoffs. ... It's always fun to have another game."
Some of Brereton's family from Aiea and Waimanalo came down to support him.
"Everybody was biting their nails. I talked to my family after, they said their hands were sweating."
UH teammate Jace Tavita added 18 to complement Brereton's latest 40-point-plus outing. CMC had missed Tavita's services the last few games.
"Thank goodness he came today," Brereton said. "During one spurt he hit five 3s in a row. And he was the one who called the plays at the end, along with coach (Allan Silva). They talked about it and it was good to have him back."
In the loss, UH alum Geremy Robinson scored 33 for Grantco, while Chaminade's James Francisco added 26 and UH freshman Caleb Dressler 21. Dressler left early with a hurt ankle, however. Grantco missed out again on the services of the talented Julian Sensley, who has been on the mainland.
In the nightcap, Wealth Strategy looked to have the upset in the bag, building a 20-point lead even without UH junior Garrett Jefferson, who was resting an ailment. But National Fire kept chipping away and drew even near the end of the second half.
"We came back from 20 points down, and you're never going to lose after that," Fotu said. "It just never felt like we were going to lose. ... I put everything in there at the end and we came out with the win."
It almost ended another way entirely. Wealth guard Chandler Pearson had a chance to win it in regulation, getting fouled with 0.8 seconds left as he brought the ball upcourt. But he converted only one of two at the line and the game went to OT.
That's where UH's Fotu took over. He scored nine of his 24 points in the extra period. (That was nine of his team's 13 points in OT.) It was clear where the ball was going on offense, and he delivered in the clutch. That was despite a 25-point outing from UH teammate Brandon Jawato for W.S.
"I put more heart in it. I was playing harder," he said of the burst. "I knew if we lost we would have gone home. I have to play with that intensity all the time. Come season, I will."
Fotu earned a Thursday rematch against UH teammate and Flipbooks' top scorer Christian Standhardinger. The two Rainbow Warrior power forwards played each other almost evenly in the regular-season finale last week, but Standhardinger had better efforts from his teammates. "Oh man, I'm excited," Fotu said. "I'm excited to play against some good defense, and also play good defense on him.
"Hopefully," he added.
NFP coach Tim Shepherd, the former 'Bows big man and director of operations for Bob Nash, is becoming a Fotu believer. Here's what he had to say about the up-and-comer:
"He's a legitimate big man. He's got the moves, he's got the poise. He just needs to work on that engine, to be more deliberate, more assertive and aggressive. You know, he'll get that in time. I like how he closed out the game. He had some fresh legs from when he came out the last couple minutes, and it worked. That's all we needed, was for him to come through in clutch moments."
Shepherd was asked where he felt Fotu was against most incoming college freshmen.
"I think he's ahead of the curve. I'm not sure how Gib's going to use him, in what capacity, but I think he's ahead of the pace. For me, in my opinion, he's gotta get that drive going, be more deliberate, be more assertive. I don't want to say be selfish, but at times he's going to have to be. ... He passes out a lot. He has to kind of re-establish himself in the post. Floats out a little bit too much too. But over time he'll learn that stuff. He's got a lot of experience with national teams and everything else. So I think he'll be a quick study, and I think he'll be a player to watch in the future for the 'Bows."
William Broadus led W.S. with 28 points.