Moanalua's Kauhola displays hot hand against ranked foe
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By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Against the nation's No. 13-ranked high school boys basketball team (according to USA Today) and guards headed to Duke and Richmond, Moanalua senior Josiah Kauhola stood out as the high scorer with 26 points last Friday in an 84-58 loss to Gonzaga (Washington, D.C.).
Kauhola, a 6-foot guard, drained six 3-pointers and helped Nä Menehune stay within striking distance for almost three periods before the Eagles pulled away in the fourth.
Kauhola opened the game with a short banker to give Moanalua a 2-0 lead, and never cooled off.
"Coach (Greg Tacon) told me to shoot, so I just shot it," Kauhola said. "He told me not to be scared, to just go at it. So after I made my first shot, I kept shooting."
Kauhola hit his first 3-pointer two minutes into the game, putting Nä Menehune up, 7-6. After Gonzaga built a 34-21 lead midway through the second period, he swished two 3-pointers to help Moanalua cut it to 38-27.
The Eagles opened the lead to 42-27 by halftime, but Kauhola began the third period with another trey to make it 42-30. Then when Gonzaga stretched the lead to 52-35, he scored on two layups (the second one over a leaping defender) and drilled another 3-pointer from the corner to close it to 54-44 with 3:14 remaining in the third period.
Kauhola said he and his dad, Mikell, worked hard on his outside shot during the offseason.
"I practiced a lot," Kauhola said. "I took about 300 shots a day."
Tacon said Kauhola has made steady progress over the past three seasons.
"He got to play in the state tournament as a sophomore, behind Stevie (Austin), and last year he had a good experience running the offense as a junior," Tacon said. "This year, as a senior, he came back even stronger and he's been in tune with everything we're trying to do as a team."
Tacon said he wouldn't expect Kauhola to score 26 points every night, but the fireworks against Gonzaga is a good sign nonetheless.
"He's a great shooter and he gained a lot of confidence from that game," Tacon said. "His best days are still ahead of him."