Chu, Christenson ruled court
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Kainoa Chu led 'Iolani School to the boys basketball state championship, and Micah Christenson came within a few seconds of doing the same for Kamehameha.
It was a similar situation in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu season, after which they shared ILH Player of the Year honors.
So it is only appropriate Chu and Christenson also share the Advertiser State Player of the Year distinction.
Chu, a 6-foot senior shooting guard, averaged 14.9 points per game in the regular season even with the Raiders using a platoon system for the first three periods of most games. He stepped up his scoring in the state tournament, averaging 23 points in three games.
That included 26 points in the title game, capped by a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4.6 seconds remaining to lift 'Iolani to a pulsating 46-43 victory.
Chu scored all 11 of the Raiders' fourth-quarter points.
Christenson, a 6-5 junior forward, was perhaps the state's top all-around player throughout season. He averaged 16.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.9 steals, 2.2 assists and 1.7 blocks per game.
After falling to 'Iolani in the ILH championship game, the Warriors embarked on a rigorous journey that forced them to play eight games in 12 days — each game a "must-win" with state championship hopes on the line.
Christenson responded, scoring 13 points in a state quarterfinal win over Moanalua while playing the entire fourth period and two overtimes with four fouls, then scoring 13 points with six rebounds and five steals while playing all 32 minutes in a 47-43 semifinal victory over Punahou. In the title game, he scored 23 points with 11 rebounds.
Chu and Christenson are joined on the All-State first team by Kahuku shooting guard Nehoa Akina, Moanalua forward Marcus Monroe and Punahou forward DeForest Buckner.
Akina, a 5-9 senior who was the O'ahu Interscholastic Association's Red Conference Eastern Division Player of the Year, took on most of the Red Raiders' scoring burden and also assumed much of their ball-handling duties early in the season.
He was one of the state's top pure shooters, pouring in 59 points in two regular-season games against Moanalua.
Monroe, a 6-4 senior, was one of the state's most dynamic and exciting players. He was able to score from 3-point range or in transition with high-flying dunks, helping Nā Menehune win their first OIA championship since 1990.
Buckner, a 6-7 sophomore, often dominated in the post with his leaping rebounds and agile moves creating layups or short bankers. He helped the Buffanblu take second place in the ILH and reach the state semifinals.
'Iolani's Dean Shimamoto was named Coach of the Year in his first year at the helm replacing Mark Mugiishi, who had guided the Raiders to 463 victories and seven state titles in 20 seasons.
Read his blog on high school sports at http://preptalk.honadvblogs.com.