The opportunity Kahuku was denied in the fall continues to provide motivation late into the winter season.
The disappointment of being locked out of the state football tournament due to an off-field ruling now provides fuel for the Red Raiders basketball team, which marched into the semifinals of the state tournament with a 66-56 win over fourth-seeded Lahainaluna yesterday at McKinley High School.
"They’re hungry," Kahuku head coach Darren Johnson said. "Every sport at Kahuku is hungry."
Kahuku senior point guard Mua Malufau scored 11 points and dished out nine assists to lead the Red Raiders into the Division I semifinals of the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA State Boys Basketball Championships for the third straight year.
Kahuku placed second in 2009 and fourth last year, adding another layer of inspiration to the Red Raiders’ efforts this week.
"We’re just trying to finish what we started," said Malufau, a running back/slotback on the football team. "We don’t want to end up where we did the past couple years. We just want to finish it.
"We’re just fighting. Most of us are football players and that’s our motivation."
Malufau, who was called up to the varsity as a freshman, operated a balanced Kahuku attack as four Red Raiders scored in double figures. KJ Uluave led the Red Raiders with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Shairone Thompson finished with 13 points and guard Kawehena Johnson hit three 3-pointers on his way to 11 points.
Kahuku entered the tournament unseeded after the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red title slipped away with two losses to Moanalua last week. The Red Raiders dispatched Hilo in the first round on Wednesday and built a 17-point cushion in the fourth quarter of last night’s quarterfinal against Maui Interscholastic League champion Lahainaluna.
"After the first loss against Moanalua, our kids just said, ‘shake it off, we’ve got one more shot,’ " Darren Johnson said. "When we lost in the OIA championship it really woke them up."
Kahuku’s balance countered Lahainaluna’s backcourt combination of Lukas Williams and Todd Rickard Jr. Williams led all scorers with 24 points, while Rickard hit three 3-pointers and finished with 17.
Kahuku took control early with a 9-0 run bridging the first and second quarters and led 33-23 at halftime.
The cushion grew to 17 when a layup by Thompson gave Kahuku a 57-40 lead early in the fourth quarter. Lahainaluna then went on a 10-0 run and closed to seven when John Mishima scored on a putback with 3:19 left.
The Lunas got the ball back and had five attempts at the basket with a chance to get to within five. But the ball refused to fall and when the Red Raiders finally secured a rebound, Malufau found Bronson Beatty for a layup on the other end. Beatty was fouled on the play and his free throw pushed the lead back to double digits.
"That kept the momentum on our side and helped us finish it," said Malufau, who had a nifty behind-the-back assist to Samala Afalava to finish a fast break earlier in the quarter.
"I don’t even look at it when he has turnover because I know he’s going to come back and make seven good plays," Johnson said. "Mua’s like a coach on the court. It’s his senior year and somebody’s going to have to fill big shoes next year."
KAHUKU–Evan Ramirez 0, Kawehena Johnson 11, Samala Afalava 8, Tyrone Brown 0, Mua Malufau 11, KJ Uluave 18, Bronson Beatty 3, Mekeli Fiso 2, Shairone Thompson 13.
LAHAINALUNA–Todd Rickard Jr. 17, Lukas Williams 24, Micah Arcangel 0, Leroy Rickard 3, Folau Tauese 5, John Mishima 4, Feleti Taufa 0, Gavin Kahaialii 0, Amanaki Vakalahi 3.
3-point goals–Kahuku 5 (Johnson 3, Afalava 2). Lahainaluna 4 (T. Rickard 3, L. Rickard).
‘Iolani 64, Radford 24
In their first game in 12 days, the defending state champion Raiders quickly dispelled any concerns over rust accumulating during their time off.
Top-seeded ‘Iolani jumped all over the Rams to open up a 34-3 lead in the second quarter and cruised into a semifinal matchup with Kahuku tonight at 7.
"They were definitely tired of practicing," ‘Iolani head coach Dean Shimamoto said. "Our practices are really tough. It was clear they wanted to get it out. You’re always a little worried when you have that long break that they’ll be rusty. I think it was more they were just anxious to play."
The Raiders hadn’t played since closing the Interscholastic League of Honolulu season on Feb. 5. ‘Iolani forward Trevyn Tulonghari scored 12 of his game-high 14 points in the first half. All 10 of guard Reid Saito’s points came before the break as Shimamoto was able to rest his starters for most of the final quarter.
"It’s always such a tough road you have to rest guys and have them fresh," Shimamoto said.
Shimamoto credited the Raiders’ defense for dictating last night’s win and setting up tonight’s meeting with Kahuku, a rematch of last year’s semifinal duel won by ‘Iolani 55-44.
"They’re big, they’re athletic and they’ve got some guys who can play basketball so we’re expecting a battle," Shimamoto said.
Maika Ulufale scored six points to lead Radford, the fifth team out of the OIA.
At McKinley H.S. gym
RADFORD–Glenn Castil 3, Charles Wong 0, Wayne Keys Jr. 1, Dominique Huggins 0, Steven Watkins 2, Nahshon George 3, Zachary Pelzl 0, Dorsey Norris 2, Nicholas Lenover 0, Jeromy Castro 2, Roscoe Kalilikane 2, Tevita Baravilala 0, Maika Ulufale 9.
‘IOLANI–Jourdan Simmonds 1, Drew Uchiyama 0, Tracy Young 1, Reid Saito 10, Kainoa Scheer 7, Josiah Sukumaran 4, Austin O’Leary 9, Trevyn Tulonghari 14, Gabriel Vega 7, Andrew Okimura 0, Adam Ching 7, Keahi Hogan 2, Duke Pauli 2.
3-point goals–Radford 2 (Castil, Ulufale). ‘Iolani 4 (Tulonghari 2, O’Leary 1, Ching 1).
Mililani 63, Hilo 55
The Trojans picked up a bittersweet victory, outscoring the Vikings 22-5 in the second quarter.
Hassan Richardson racked up 23 points for Mililani, followed by Joshua Lenchanko with 13.
Randan Berinobis put up a game-high 27 points, however he was the only Hilo player to reach double-digits. Kalei Amorin added nine points for the Vikings.
At McKinley gym
HILO–Brett Ebanez 2, Kamuela Patnaude 3, Jodd Carter 5, Kamaka Lewis 0, Rico Loeak 8, David Alvarez 0, Brandon Tanoue 0, Kalei Amorin 9, Isiah Fonseca 0, Kian Kurokawa 0, Randan Berinobis 27, Austin Dante 0, Kainoa Kawaha 1.
MILILANI–Damon Shimabukuro 0, Ryan Jacobs 0, Brady Spiridigliozzi 4, Kaimihoku Wilson 7, Joshua Lenchanko 13, Robert Griffin 0, Alex Bumgarner 8, Riley Borges 6, Hassan Richardson 23, Christian Baltazar 2, Peter Bueno 0, Chedan Pascual 0.
3-point goals–Hilo 5 (Loeak 2, Berinobis 2, Carter). Mililani 1 (Bumgarner).