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Kamehameha keeps AOP contained

  • FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Kamehameha's Dyrbe Enos shot while guarded by AOP's Michael Urcia in the first half.

  • FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Kamehameha senior Micah Christenson grabbed 19 rebounds and had three steals against AOP last night.
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The dream lives for Kamehameha, but the road ended for the state’s Cinderella team, Academy of the Pacific.

Micah Christenson made sure of that. The 6-foot-6 senior continued his domination with 28 points, 19 rebounds and three steals as Kamehameha eliminated AOP 68-54 in the semifinals of the Hawaiian Airlines/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Boys Basketball Division I Championships.

Kamehameha (23-7 overall) reaches the final for the third year in a row. In 2009, the Warriors won the title, but last season, they lost to ‘Iolani.

The Warriors knocked out AOP by using their recipe of deadly long-range shooting — 7-for-14 from the 3-point arc — and persistent trapping defense. They also came through at the foul line (21-for-29), while AOP floundered (13-for-25).

It was the first time in three nights that Kamehameha didn’t reach the 80-point mark.

"It’s all about the win. We had to contain Micah (Dunhour)," Christenson said. "He can break loose as you saw from (Thursday) night. We had to respect his ability to drive to the hole."

Dunhour, a 6-foot-5 guard, had 29 points against Moanalua and 22 against Roosevelt. He finished with just 12 against a collapsing, air-tight Kamehameha man-to-man defense.

"If anything, we were going to take our chances and let him shoot 3s," Christenson added.

Kamehameha coach Jesse Nakanishi has been in a good mood all week.

"We’ve been shooting the ball pretty good, but I was concerned we’d rely on that too much," he said. "Micah was just amazing with what he does. He’s the hub of our offense. Everything goes through him, and he’s making everybody better."

AOP stuck with a man-to-man defense and mixed in fullcourt traps to force 20 turnovers by Kamehameha. However, Christenson’s ability to score with either hand inside, outside and on drives was too much to handle. Often, he found open teammates on the perimeter, leading to easy shots.

Shane Matayoshi finished with 13 points (3-for-4 from 3-point range) for Kamehameha, which shot 48 percent from the field (20-for-42).

The game was even until late in the first quarter, when Matayoshi scored five points in a row, including a 23-foot trey at the buzzer to give Kamehameha a 15-9 lead.

Every time AOP made a run, Kamehameha answered with all-net accuracy from deep. A 14-3 run midway through the second quarter — Christenson hit two 3-pointers and scored 10 points — extended the lead to 18.

Kamehameha led 37-20 at the break.

"Our goal was to chip it to 10 by the end of the third quarter," AOP coach Wally Marciel said.

AOP seemed on its way, cutting the lead to 44-31 after a 3-pointer by Drew Viena. However, Christenson and Matayoshi hit back-to-back treys and the lead quickly went back to 19. Making matters worse, the Dolphins shot 2-for-7 from the line in the third quarter, killing any possibility of a major run.

They got no closer than 12 the rest of the way.

Viena led AOP (22-9 overall) with 14 points and Kona Makaula added 11. Post Moritz Krume struggled with early foul trouble and finished with five points. Dunhour had a team-high eight boards.

"After (Thursday) night’s game, an emotional win over a tough team (Moanalua), we missed easy shots, free throws," Marciel said. "We could have cut it in half, maybe steal one. But they hurt us on the press."

AOP met Kamehameha three times before the state tourney, beating the Warriors at the ‘Iolani Classic before losing twice in Interscholastic League of Honolulu play. Kamehameha finished second in the league and AOP was third.

Familiarity didn’t make the challenge any easier for the Dolphins, who committed 16 turnovers.

"The difference is, when they trap, they get you to not run an offense," Marciel said. "But they deserve all the credit. They hit big shots. When you don’t block out Micah (Christenson), he gets inside and hurts you."

It was a tough finish for long shot AOP, which has 75 students and had never played Division I basketball until this season.

"I’m a little bit depressed," said Krume, a transfer from Germany. "What can we do? They made every shot. We missed free throws. But we played really hard."

Dunhour focused on the positives.

"Mixed emotions, but I’m proud of everybody," he said. "Kamehameha did a great job."

Christenson is already looking forward to the final.

"I’m excited. Two years ago, we played Kahuku in the final. Last year, it was ‘Iolani," he said before ‘Iolani beat Kahuku in last night’s second semifinal. "A lot of our returnees have the experience of championship games. We’re very excited."

In the opening round against Baldwin, Christenson had 21 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and four steals in just 20 minutes of play. He followed that with 20 points, 11 boards and three steals in 22 minutes against Kamehameha-Hawaii.

He is averaging 23 points, 12.3 rebounds and three steals per game. He has shot 8-for-13 from 3-point range.

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