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Roosevelt boys hold their own


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POSTED: Saturday, December 26, 2009

THIRD IN A SERIES » The Roosevelt boys have tasted sweet victory early in the season.

Mired in Division II—the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Conference—for a second year in a row, the Rough Riders nevertheless have pummeled a range of D-I teams.

A narrow win at Kalaheo in the final of the Pete Smith Classic validated the Rough Riders' position among the state's top teams, earning them a No. 8 ranking in the Star-Bulletin Boys Basketball Preseason Top 10.

On paper: Coach Steve Hathaway's squad was 19-10 (12-5 OIA) in D-II play last year. Roosevelt lost to Kailua in the OIA final and then to Kohala in the state quarters.

This season, Roosevelt is 5-2 in nonconference play, with losses to Wilson (Ore.) and Mid-Pacific. Center Kaipo Pale is a force inside, using his 6-foot-5 frame effectively.

His skills and Roosevelt's defensive prowess led to wins over Saint Louis (57-44) and Mililani (62-43) at the Pete Smith tourney.

The loss to MPI halted a string of victories against local teams, and Kalaheo awaits today in the opening round of the St. Francis Merv Lopes Classic at King Armory.

The skinny: Regardless of classification, Roosevelt is one of the best teams in the OIA thanks to Pale, who also plays quarterback on the football team, and a balanced scoring attack.

Hathaway counts on Brendan Nakatani and Brandon Mitchell as stoppers, but Mitchell can also hit from long-range. Agaese Tago and Johnson Delos Santos could also benefit from the double teams that will blanket Pale.

X factor: Free-throw shooting might be the Achilles' heel for Roosevelt, which was just 21-for-36 (58 percent) against Saint Louis and 16-for-33 (48 percent) against Mililani.