[ HIGH SCHOOL REPORT ]
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Jeremiah Ostrowski and Spencer McLachlin have been teammates since the fifth grade, the year that Ostrowski transferred from Pearl City Elementary to Punahou.
Keys to Success
Freshmen Spencer McLachlin
and Jeremiah Ostrowski give
While some teenagers spend a fair amount of time hounding their dads for the car keys, Spencer McLachlin is more interested in having access to Hemmeter Fieldhouse.
"He (Chris McLachlin) has the keys to the gym -- that helps a lot," McLachlin said, smiling.
Of course, at the age of 15, McLachlin isn't old enough to ask his dad for the keys to one of the family cars yet, a fact likely to earn him his share of ribbing from his older teammates, if it hasn't already. But that is all part of being a freshman on the varsity team. He and fellow first-year player Jeremiah Ostrowski understand that their respective roles aren't defined merely by their playing time.
"They get teased left and right every day," Punahou coach Greg Tacon said. "There are no easy moments for them. We're all over them."
On the court, Ostrowski and McLachlin rate among the top newcomers of the current high school basketball season, both having become impact players for a Buffanblu team that is currently ranked second in the Star-Bulletin's Top 10 poll.
Ostrowski has started every game for Punahou, while McLachlin has provided steady minutes off the bench. Both figured big in the Buffanblu's overtime win over Kamehameha last Saturday night. Ostrowski finished with a team-high 11 points, and McLachlin scored 10, including the winning basket with 20 seconds left.
The pair have been teammates since the fifth grade, the year that Jeremiah transferred from Pearl City Elementary to Punahou.
"I think it's why we have pretty good chemistry," McLachlin says of their familiarity. "The other night (during a critical sequence against Kamehameha), I knew he was going to be penetrating and I knew they tried to block him, so I moved right to the (open) spot. He saw me and passed it, and we had a wide-open layup. We did that a couple of times."
Said Ostrowski: "We've been playing together for a long time, so it's exciting. Back in seventh grade, I remember we were trying to project what kind of team we'd have, so we've been waiting for this."
In basketball circles, the Buffanblu are seen as the team of tomorrow, given their youth and the continued mastery of prospective three-time state champion Iolani, but Tacon is more interested in the present. His team has as much experience as it has youth, featuring key performers in senior forward Reid Fowler and veteran point guard Scott Otake, junior post player Kasey Ko, sophomore forward Brenton Lee, sophomore Danny Cho, senior Morgan Ellsworth and 6-foot-5 junior TJ Zabriskie.
"Coach wants a great team now," McLachlin said. "Lots of people tell him we're going to have a great team next year or the year after."
Adds Tacon: "The future is definitely now. As good as the future is -- and we obviously have a lot of good kids coming back -- we want to see how far we can take this group."
Bringing freshmen up to the varsity is a move not without its risks, admits Tacon, whose team was 9-1 going into last night's game at home against Saint Louis.
"One thing that is really important is that when you bring two freshmen and two sophomores into the mix like we have is that the seniors on the team play a vital role in terms of acceptance," he said. "You have jealousies in basketball more so than in any other sport because everybody can have the ball and everybody can shoot. Any time you have prime-time freshmen, it's important that they're accepted as players and as people. It's been 'mission accomplished' here."
Many game nights have found Ostrowski as the Buffanblu's high-point man. His offensive attributes have made him a leader by example.
"He's kind of quiet, but you can see it in him on the court that he hates to lose -- even if it's only a game of H-O-R-S-E," McLachlin said. "He won't give up until it is absolutely over. I think that's what helped push us to come back against Kamehameha in the second half. He has the never-give-up attitude, and so does the rest of our team. He can take anyone off of the dribble. He has a lot of athletic talent, and he relies on that."
McLachlin all but learned to count on the Punahou scoreboard. As the Buffanblu's coach, father Chris led Punahou to state titles in 1975 and '79 and 11 years later in '90, while older brother Parker proved an ideal role model.
"I was always shooting around and playing with my brother," he said. "Basketball has always been part of my life. I thought this year would be one to gain experience -- just learn as much as I can. Any playing time is awesome. To be playing as much as I am makes me happy."
McLachlin is currently listed at 6-5, but hasn't given up on adding a little more height.
"The doctor told me I was only supposed to be like 6-1 -- that was in sixth grade -- so I'm happy to be 6-5," he said. "I was always like five inches taller than everyone in my grade, and I don't know when I'm going to stop."
Says Ostrowski: "He (McLachlin) can shoot the ball and he can play inside -- he's pretty versatile."
BACK TO TOP
Athletes of the Week
Franklin Cuello, Kalaheo soccer: Scored in overtime for a 2-1 playoff victory over Aiea.
Hea Kane, Kailua soccer: Scored the game-winning goal in double overtime as the Surfriders beat Kapolei 1-0 in the OIA quarterfinals.
David Johnson, University: Scored 22 points in an upset victory over Kamehameha.
Will Stinton, Hawaii Baptist: Scored a combined 37 points in a loss to Word of Life and a win over Lanakila Baptist.
Louis Mansanas Jr., Castle: Scored 25 points in a win over previously unbeaten Kahuku.
Kapena Quisano, McKinley: Scored 18 points in a comeback victory over Kaimuki.
Alex Patykula, Mililani: Scored 24 points in an overtime victory over Kapolei.
Tauran Moore, Radford: Scored 25 points in a victory over Nanakuli.
Derrick Low, Iolani: Scored 28 points in a win over Saint Louis and 21 in limited action in a win over Kamehameha.
Desmond Hanohano, Saint Louis: Scored 21 in a loss to Iolani.
Jeremiah Ostrowski, Punahou: Scored 18 in a win over Maryknoll.
Spencer McLachlin, Punahou: Hit the winning shot in an OT victory over Kamehameha.
Ranson DeCosta, Damien: Scored 31 points in a victory over Mid-Pacific.
Angelo Massey, Leilehua: Had 15 points and 17 rebounds in a win over Campbell.
Michael Hardy, Pearl City: Had seven points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks in a win over Waianae.
Kainoa LaCount, Kailua: Scored 14 points and pulled in 12 rebounds in a win over Thompson.
Danton Balbas, Roosevelt: Scored 14 points in a win over Farrington.
Kerstan Ho, Saint Louis: Scored 20 in a win over Damien.
Anthony Palomares, Leilehua: Scored 24 in a win over Waialua.
Nick Milan and Jimmy Miyasaka, Kaimuki: Milan scored 22 and Miyasaka added 21 in a win over Kalani.
Carsen Chun, Kalani: Scored 21 in a loss to Kaimuki.
Sara Yoro, Mililani: Scored in overtime to give Mililani a 1-0 victory over Moanalua in the OIA playoffs.
Tobi Kanehira, Aiea: Scored both goals in a 2-0 OIA quarterfinal win over Kalaheo.
David Gualdarama, Kamehameha: Scored the only goal in a key 1-0 ILH win over Pac-Five.
Ethan Gonsalves, Castle: Scored two goals in a 3-2 OIA quarterfinal win over Kapolei.
Dylan Eichelberger, Kalaheo: Scored the only goal in a 1-0 OIA quarterfinal win over Moanalua.
Stephen Carlson, Punahou: Scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Kamehameha.
Ashley Fernandez, Lanai: Went 3-for-4 with a double and home run with three RBIs in a 9-7 win over Kamehameha-Maui, qualifying the team for the states.
Julie Nakandakare, HBA/SA/SF: Went 2-for-2 and drove in the winning run in a big ILH D-II win over University.
Tanisha Milca and Rusty Ann Borges, Kailua: Milca went 5-for-5 with seven RBIs, while Borges went 3-for-5 with a double, triple and six RBIs in a win over Kalani.
Nicole Alconel, Baldwin: Was the winning pitcher and hit a home run in an MIL semifinal victory over Maui.
Kaui Tom, Kamehameha: Had the winning hit in an ILH showdown against Iolani.
Sheyna Farley, Castle: Hit two homers to beat Kahuku.
Mindy Hirokawa, Kaimuki: Pitched a 1-0 shutout over Kaiser.
Jessica Ngirblekuu, Kalaheo: Hit a game-winning, two-run double in an OIA Division II semifinal win over Nanakuli.
Brandi Sasaki, Kaimuki softball: Hit a home run in the Bulldogs' 1-0 win over Kaiser.
Jasmine Nahipa'a, Kalaheo: The freshman singled home the winning run in a 3-2 OIA D-II championship game win over Aiea.
Randall Tom, Seabury Hall: Won the 50 freestyle, 100 breaststroke and 100 butterfly, and was on a winning 200 freestyle relay team in an MIL meet.
To nominate ...
To nominate an athlete of the week, contact the Star-Bulletin Sports Department by 11 p.m. Sunday: