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‘Iolani Classic Indiana team ends Oak Hill’s title run

By Paul Honda

LAST UPDATED: 2:18 a.m. HST, Dec 22, 2012

It took ballers from the Hoosier State to put an end to Oak Hill’s dynastic hold on the ‘Iolani Classic.

Not that Oak Hill, a five-time champion and the nation’s sixth-ranked team, went down quietly. Detrick Mostella connected on six 3-point bombs, including four in a huge third quarter, as unheralded La Lumiere (Ind.) stunned Oak Hill (Va.) 70-67 in the semifinals of the tourney on Friday night. The Lakers finished last season ranked No. 1 in their home state, but were still unranked this season despite the return of several key players and an 11-1 record coming into the Classic.

“Coach said to come out and play hard, whatever happens, happens. We haven’t been ranked in two or three months, we came out and busted our (tails),” Mostella said. “We have a lot of seniors, so everybody’s stepping up. We’ve been going hard at practice for three months.”

It was Oak Hill’s first loss in the tourney since 1988, when it lost to Flint Hill in the final.

“We played with a lot of heart,” Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said. “We’re just not as dominant in the post as we’ve been in the past and we just weren’t hitting shots, but we never quit.”

Oak Hill (14-2), which won titles in 1989, ’99, ’03, ’08 and ’10 lost for the second time in as many weeks. Their win streak at the Classic, including two wins earlier in the week, ended after 22 games.

On Friday, it was a different look for the Warriors, who didn’t press fullcourt until the late-game rally.

They sat back in a 2-3 zone, which opened up the perimeter for the Lakers, who shot 8-for-13 from the arc. Oak Hill finished 1-for-17 from deep.

“They’ve got great athletes, and they got handsy with us and we went too fast at times,” La Lumiere coach Alan Huss said. “They made a big run and our leading rebounder and leading scorer got in foul trouble. The first three quarters, no question, our guards played unbelievable with great pace. But we got tired.”

Adi Aruna, a 6-foot-7 senior, came up big for the Lakers, drawing a charging foul from Oak Hill’s Sindarius Thornwell with 3 seconds left and the score 68-67. Munis Tutu, a sophomore guard, hit two free throws with 2.2 seconds left for the final margin.

“He’s a major-college football player,” Huss said of Aruna. “We were oh-fer with charges for the game, we tried double-digit times, but we got the call in the end. He was in a good spot. There was no question. (Oak Hill) got their share of calls in the second half.”

Aruna’s enthusiasm — he drew a technical foul in the first half after a sideline collision — caught the attention of fans, who cheered and jeered when he re-entered the game in the final minutes and booed when he was pulled out. He signed autographs for a flock of young fans after the contest.

Jalen James added 18 points and Sam Logwood tallied 16 for the Lakers, who are in the Classic for the first time. They’re the first team from Indiana to play in the tourney. As an independent school, they are not bound to the travel restrictions of most schools in the state.

The running Lakers are doing their own version of Showtime here in the islands. They fell behind 4-0, then scored 13 points in a row. By the end of the opening quarter, James, a 6-4 guard, had nine points and La Lumiere had a stunning 25-8 lead. They did it with Mostella on the bench with two fouls for most of the second quarter.

Oak Hill, behind back-to-back treys by Thornwell (17 points), got within 11, but the Lakers caught fire.

Torren Jones, a 6-9 senior, threw down a dunk on a putback, and James sank an NBA-range trey as they opened a 17-point lead. La Lumiere led 40-27 at intermission.

Then Mostella, a verbal commit to Oklahoma State, caught fire. He hit from all over the arc, including a step-back 23-footer, as the lead opened to 28 points. Then things got strange.

Aruna made a spectacular steal near the Oak Hill bench, going parallel to poke the ball away. But he took a blow to the head in the process and screamed in agony for at least 15 seconds before the next dead ball. Aruna got up and screamed at the Oak Hill bench before being pulled away by a teammate.

He was whistled for a technical foul.

From that point on, Smith implored his team to keep battling, and they chipped away. Their fullcourt press wore down the Lakers, and Thornwell combined with Troy Williams (14 points) for 17 fourth-quarter points. The near-capacity crowd, which had been somewhat neutral, turned in favor of the Warriors.

In response, Oak Hill came back with a furious rally, outrebounding La Lumiere 14-3 in the final quarter. Terrence Phillips’ three-point play on a baseline drive cut it to 68-65 with 28 seconds to go. A steal by Ike Iroegbu led to a drive for a bucket by Thornwell, cutting the lead to one with 15.6 seconds remaining.

After two misses at the foul line by Tutu — he made the second but stepped over the line to chase his shot before it touched the rim — gave Oak Hill a perfect opportunity with 13.6 seconds to go.

But Thornwell drove through the middle of the lane and was met by Aruna, who stood his ground for the offensive foul on Thornwell.

“We had to overcome all those turnovers,” Mostella said of the final stretch. “It’s all about defense, taking charges. They called a lot of blocks, but when it came down to it, they called a charge. It was a game changer.”

Findlay 40, Montrose 35

Nigel Williams-Goss and Gavin Schilling each scored 14 to help Findlay Prep rally past Montrose in the other semifinal on Friday.

Montrose outscored the Pilots 14-4 in the third period to take a 31-30 lead entering the fourth period.

Therence Mayimba led the Mustangs with 12 points.

Other ‘Iolani Classic games

Tsinghua (China) 52, McKinley 42
Yates (Texas) 76, ‘Iolani 5
Hilo 42, Moanalua 39
Kalaheo 40, Kamehameha 38
Kapolei 35, Kahuku 29
John Carroll (Md.) 46, Coolidge (D.C.) 34

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