Moanalua captures OIA Red title, 55-48
• Photo gallery: OIA prep basketball
By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
In seasons past, winning the O'ahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference title wasn't a major priority for Moanalua boys basketball coach Greg Tacon.
It was all about making the state tournament.
Now, he feels differently.
Marcus Keene scored 14 points and Keven Amaral added 11 as the run-and-gun Nā Menehune beat Kahuku, 55-48, last night for the OIA Red title at McKinley.
"I'm going to be honest, there was a time I didn't think winning the OIA was that big of a deal, it was about making states," Tacon said. "But I realized I was being extremely selfish because it's really important to the kids. It's an accomplishment for them."
Moanalua, ranked No. 2 in The Advertiser's Top 10 poll, led 34-19 early in the third period, but Kahuku got within 39-36 entering the fourth. Nehoa Akina and Shairone Thompson each scored six points during the Red Raiders' run.
"We did make a good comeback," said Kahuku coach Hiram Akina. "That's why I'm proud of our guys. We rebounded the ball, got the ball down the court, made some baskets and really came back nice."
Keene, a freshman, gave Nā Menehune some breathing room early in the fourth by converting two steals into layups, which put Moanalua (15-1) up 44-36.
"I was playing good defense and they rewarded me with good passes and I hit layups and made free throws at the end. That's what we needed to win," said Keene, who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Kahuku, ranked No. 6, scored the next four points, but Moanalua kept its advantage between five and seven the rest of the way.
Nā Menehune hit 12 of 15 free-throw attempts in the fourth, including 6 of 7 by Keene.
It is Moanalua's first OIA title since 1990.
Moanalua, Kahuku, Mililani, Campbell and Farrington will represent the OIA in next week's Hawaiian Airlines Division I State Championships.
"We just worked hard every day at practice, we play hard in the games and we came out and won the championship," Keene said. "That was our goal the whole season. Now we're ready for states."
Moanalua was at its best last night when it got into transition. Defending league champion Kahuku (13-5) was able to get back in the game by slowing the tempo with its 2-3 zone.
Nā Menehune took a quick 15-2 lead with the most spectacular points coming on a transition alley-oop dunk by Marcus Monroe off a feed from Josiah Kauhola, which made it 7-2.
"That's our game: fast tempo," said Monroe, who scored nine points. "We run all the time, run, run, run. The other team gets tired, we're still running."
Akina scored 20 points to lead Kahuku.
KAHUKU (13-5) 5 14 17 12—48
MOANALUA (15-1) 15 14 10 16—55
KAHUKU — Michael Tyau 2, Kawehena Johnson 4, Mua Malufau 0, Samala Afalava 0, Hans Brown 0, Evan Moe 0, Sage Kaka 4, Wonka Beatty 0, Nehoa Akina 20, Jackson Kaka 7, Shairone Thompson 9, Josh Christiansen 0, KJ Uluave 2, Mason Golden 0. Totals 18 10-11 48.
MOANALUA — Bronson Kepa 0, Reece Racoma 5, Keven Amaral 11, Aaron Davis 0, Alex Braswell 0, Brandon Guerreo 0, Josiah Kauhola 8, Wesley Armbrust 4, Marcus Monroe 9, Dexter Williams 2, Marcus Keene 14, Carl Ko 2. Totals 18 16-24 55.
3-point goals — Kahuku 2 (Akina 2). Moanalua 3 (Kauhola, Amaral, Racoma).
Reported by Melvynne Mitsui