'Iolani makes statement by rolling over Baldwin
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By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Wes Nakama
Five-time defending boys basketball state champion 'Iolani made a strong statement last night it's a threat for No. 6, steamrolling Baldwin, 70-45, in the Hawaiian Airlines/Hawai'i High School Athletic Association Division I Championships first-round action at Radford's James Alegre Gym.
The Raiders, ranked No. 2 in The Advertiser's statewide Top 10 poll of coaches and media, improved to 11-2 in the regular and postseason and will face Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion and No. 3 seed Kamehameha-Hawai'i (15-2) in tonight's quarterfinals.
Tipoff is set for 6 at Radford.
'Iolani played a first-round game last night for the first time since 2000, after losing to Punahou, 60-46, in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu finale two weeks ago. But against Baldwin, the Raiders showed no signs of the poor shooting that plagued them in that loss nor the rust that usually comes with a 12-day layoff.
After Baldwin took a brief 17-16 lead on Kawika Grace's layup with 1:25 remaining in the first period, Ryan Dung gave 'Iolani the lead for good with a 3-pointer from the left wing and later swished another 3 from the right wing with two seconds left to put the Raiders up, 25-17.
After Chase Nakamura opened the second quarter with a putback to close it to 25-19, 'Iolani outscored the Bears 15-3 in the final 6:55 of the half to take a 40-22 lead into the locker room.
"It felt really good, because I was struggling to hit my shots throughout the whole second round (of the ILH season)," said Raiders senior guard Case Miyahira, who scored 15 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers. "We still think we can win this whole thing, the only thing different is now we're underdogs. But we just want to play our best and show that we can do it."
Miyahira's hot shooting continued in the second half, as he opened it with another 3-pointer to make it 43-22.
After Dung tumbled over the scorer's table diving to save a loose ball with 3:41 remaining in the third period, the scoreboard control panel's clock function failed to operate, so time was kept on a sideline computer.
But by that time, 'Iolani was up 47-26 and time was no longer on Baldwin's side anyway.
"We knew they could shoot, but we still left too many guys open," Bears coach Wayne Gushiken said. "Plus, they move the ball so well, they know how to get their shooters open."
Foul trouble also had stalled Baldwin's comeback effort, as top scorer Nakamura picked up his second foul with 6:33 left in the half, his third 3 1/2 minutes later, and his fourth with 5:17 remaining in the third quarter. Fellow junior post Jordan Helle was whistled for his second foul with 24 seconds left in the first period.
"That didn't help," Gushiken said. "Our bench is not as strong as theirs."
'Iolani coach Mark Mugiishi said he was pleased with his team's improvement over the past two weeks.
"We've had an up-and-down year, so hopefully we're going back up again," Mugiishi said. "It was a good sign that Case was on tonight, because he was not shooting well for the last two weeks of the season. We're a heavily perimeter-oriented team, and the past two weeks we worked on our deficiencies and spent a lot of time shooting and being more organized. I told the team that we're still the champion until someone knocks us off."
Miyahira finished with 18 points and Dung added 12.
Reach Wes Nakama at firstname.lastname@example.org.