Shoji helps No. 1 Iolani pull away from Kalaheo
|State basketball photo gallery|
|||Kahuku eliminates Baldwin|
By Brandon Masuoka
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Brandon Masuoka
Kawika Shoji sparked a second-half surge, and four-time defending state champion Iolani pulled away from Kalaheo for a 59-38 victory last night.
The Hawaiian Airlines/ Hawai'i High School Athletic Association Boys Basketball Tournament quarterfinal was played at Radford's Jim Alegre Gymnasium.
Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion and No. 1 Iolani (12-2) advanced to the semifinals and will play Kahuku in a rematch of last year's state final at the Stan Sheriff tonight at 8.
"Kahuku's a real good team; we watch them on TV all the time," Shoji said. "Junior Ale is the best player in the state. They're very competitive, and we're going to have to come ready to play to get the win."
Iolani defeated Kahuku, 62-51, last year to win the title.
Shoji last night was scoreless in the first half, but finished with a team-high 11 points.
Shoji, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, scored nine of Iolani's 11 points during a key stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters to break open a two-point game against Kalaheo (10-4) — the O'ahu Interscholastic Association's third-place team.
"In the first half, I was a little passive," Shoji said. "The second half, I knew coming out we needed to be more aggressive, and I took it to the basket a little bit more."
Case Miyahira's 3-pointer gave Iolani a 29-23 third-quarter lead, but the Mustangs rallied to cut the deficit to 30-28 on Tyler Caswell's basket.
Shoji responded with a 3-point play, a steal and layup, a putback, and — after baskets by Caswell and Iolani's Liloa Nobriga — finished his surge with a pair of free throws for a 41-30 Iolani lead with 6:12 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"Kawika has been great for us all year long," Iolani coach Mark Mugiishi said. "He's done a lot of things besides scoring. He plays great defense, rebounds and scores at opportune times."
Kalaheo cut the deficit to seven points three times — the last at 45-38 with 2:22 left — but got no closer to the Raiders, who hit 18 of 22 free throws in the final period.
"I thought we played hard," Kalaheo coach Chico Furtado said. "You can't have lapses against good teams. We cut it down to seven, but we were trying to trade baskets for missed free throws, and Iolani wasn't cooperating. They made all their free throws."
Iolani platooned players the entire game, and remained fresh against the hard-charging Mustangs led by Marvin Judd.
Judd scored a game-high 18 points, many on strong drives to the basket.
"It was a hard-fought game," Mugiishi said. "I think what helped in the end is that we play a lot of guys, so we had enough legs at the end to make free throws and play a smart game at the end."
Iolani trailed briefly in the first quarter, but was helped by Kalaheo's shaky free throw shooting just before halftime.
The Mustangs closed out the second quarter by missing six consecutive free throws and trailed 24-21 at intermission.
Kalaheo finished the game 10 of 18 from the foul line, while Iolani was 26 of 37. Raider point guard Barry Kang went 9 of 10 from the free throw line.
The Mustangs made the quarterfinals by routing Waimea, 93-36, on Tuesday.
Reach Brandon Masuoka at email@example.com.