Alan Santella’s hot hand pulled the Kaua‘i Police Department into the fray in the third period en route to an 82-78 win over the NFL Celebrity All-Stars in overtime.
Trailing 34-29 at the half, Santella broke through with 8 of his game-total 11 points in the third period. That tally included a pair from the outside, or as the in-house announcer said, “From deep downtown!”
Kaleo Perez pulled the KPD squad to within striking distance at least three times in the matchup, finishing with 17 points including three bombs from outside the three-point arc.
But it was the hot hand of Dubb Cage who netted the critical pair of buckets in overtime to give KPD the win. Cage finished with 25 points to lead KPD who held off the NFL in overtime.
Doug Gabriel, who forced the OT on a putback of an Ashley Lelie three-point shot attempt with just seconds showing, topped the scoring with 31 points including the NFL’s sole bucket in overtime.
Gabriel, a wide receiver for the Oakland Raiders, lost little time showing his skill under the basket, scoring 10 of the CFL’s 19-point first quarter showing.
Following Cage and Perez in KPD scoring, Santella finished with 11 points followed by Eric Caspillo adding 8 points. Dean Pigao finished with 6 points and numerous defensive efforts in the paint as did Ken Cummings who showed 4 points at the final buzzer.
Michael Contrades, whose daughter took the first free throw (empty, unfortunately) for the NFL, finished with 5 points for KPD and Todd Tanaka’s critical bucket with seconds showing, pulled KPD into the lead in the fourth period.
Following Gabriel, former University of Hawai‘i player Dana McLemore nailed 19 points including five three-point bombs that accounted for NFL surges only to have KPD answer back with hard-earned buckets.
Lelie, clearly one of the crowd favorites at the Kaua‘i High School gym, finished with 12 points. Lorenzo Lynch was the critical bench man and added 10 points in the effort followed by John Paye rounding out the effort with four points, but being instrumental in a number of long cross-court passes to Gabriel who stalked the net on the far side.
Kaua‘i JV girls basketball coach Sandi Nadatani had both her team and some of the varsity girls on hand to help with details like scorekeeping.
If Kapa‘a JV’s Kira Nakamura is the aspiring American Idol, Kaua‘i varsity player Krystal Ijima is the American Idol, rendering a solid a capella performance with the pre-game national anthem.
“That’s the same quality as you hear in the big NHL games,” KPD coach Russell Grady said to head referee Peter Rayno following the game.
Grady, who coached the KPD squad to victory, was modest in the feat.
“I’m not their coach. I just like having the chance to yell at them,” he said before the game got under way.
One of the highlights of the benefit for the State of Hawai‘i Organization of Police Officers was the availability of NFL memorabilia which fans eagerly picked up for the special halftime autograph session that was extended due to the popularity of the NFL players.
“I didn’t realize there were that many people who would come for autographs,” said Kaua‘i High School Athletic Director Ross Shimabukuro. “This surprised me.”
But the fans came, and the NFL and SHOPO players did not disappoint as the Kaua‘i men in blue chipped back from their 5-point halftime deficit, and despite having the NFL 22-19 in the final period, never threw in the towel.
The Kaua‘i SHOPO representative reminded people that SHOPO has an office on Aikahi Street in Lihu‘e which is open weekday mornings. People can stop by and pick up bumper stickers, lanyards and other SHOPO memorabilia to display their support for Kaua‘i’s police officers.