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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, February 24, 2005

Punahou rallies past Waiakea

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By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer

Punahou survived a stiff challenge in its state tournament first-round game yesterday, rallying past Waiakea, 65-53, at Blaisdell Arena.

Punahou's Spencer McLachlin rips down a rebound against Waiakea in the second quarter.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The Buffanblu, ranked No. 3 in The Advertiser's statewide Top 10 poll of coaches and media, improved to 12-3 and will play Baldwin (12-0) in today's quarterfinals at 5:45 p.m.

Waiakea, the Big Island Interscholastic Federation runner-up, led throughout most of the first half and was up 38-30 early in the third period before Punahou went on an 11-0 run. The Warriors (14-4) moved ahead 45-42 late in the quarter, but then suffered through eight minutes — bridging the third and fourth quarters — without a field goal as the Buffanblu used a 15-2 run to take control.

"If you look at our defense in the fourth quarter, I thought we did a great job of closing down their middle penetration," Punahou coach Greg Tacon said. "Our defense extended out to the perimeter and we were finding their shooters."

That was a problem in the first half, as Waiakea built a 30-22 lead on an assortment of short jumpers and 3-pointers. The Buffanblu, meanwhile, struggled from the outside in trying to shake off two weeks of rust since their last Interscholastic League of Honolulu game.

Miah Ostrowski, the Buffanblu's All-State sophomore guard, warmed up to score nine points in the second period to cut the deficit to 33-30 by halftime. Ostrowski finished with a game-high 27 points and had four steals.

"We made turnovers at key points in the game, and that hurt us," Warriors coach Jay Bartholomew said. "We didn't do a good job finishing any quarter, and when we had an eight-point lead twice, we let them back in the game instead of extending it."

It was another tough day in a strange two-week stretch for Waiakea, which went 12-1 in the regular season but lost a tiebreaker game and the BIIF Tournament final to Konawaena. The Warriors also were in the center of a media frenzy surrounding a news video showing a Konawaena player punching Waiakea junior guard Scott Ichinotsubo in the back of the head and then try to tackle referee Mason Souza on Feb. 9.

"We just tried to put it in the past and focus on our games," Ichinotsubo said.

Reach Wes Nakama at wnakama@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2456.