Kahuku to play top-seeded 'Iolani in Division I semis Boys basketball state championships schedule
Punahou will take on Kamehameha in semis
• Photo gallery: Boys state basketball
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
The Kahuku boys basketball team didn't shoot free throws especially well last night, but made them when it counted, including 3 of 4 with about 10 seconds remaining, to advance to the state semifinals.
Kahuku junior guard Mua Malufau made 1 of 2 with 10.2 seconds to take the lead and senior guard Nehoa Akina made 2 of 2 with 6.3 seconds left to seal a 65-62 win over fourth-seeded Lahainaluna in the Hawaiian Airlines Boys Basketball State Championships at Radford's Jim Alegre Gymnasium.
"We were lucky. We were fortunate in the end to have Nehoa shooting," Kahuku coach Hiram Akina said. "Usually Mua we can count on. I think our guys are resilient in the end."
Kahuku (15-4), the O'ahu Interscholastic Association runner-up, plays Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion 'Iolani (13-2) today at 5 p.m. in a semifinal at the Stan Sheriff Center.
"I guess we're a pretty clutch team down at the end," Nehoa Akina said of the Red Raiders, who finished 12 of 23 from the line. "It works for us and we'll take it, but that's not good enough, we have to make free throws throughout the whole game and stay consistent."
After Malufau hit his free throw, Akina stole a long inbounds pass, drew a foul and sank two foul shots. Sage Kaka then stole Lahainaluna's second attempt at a long inbounds pass and the Red Raiders kept possession until time expired.
Hiram Akina said assistant coach Fatu Fiso has been working on defensive packages, "going through a lockdown on defense, where nobody catches the ball, especially with seconds on the clock. We worked on that the last three days in practice and it worked for us in the end."
The Lunas took a 31-30 lead at the end of the half, which featured three ties and five lead changes. Lahainaluna junior guard Todd Rickard Jr., whose father Todd Rickard led the Lady Lunas to their first state championship a couple of weeks ago, made a basket with 43 seconds left in the half to give the Lunas a 31-25 lead — the biggest by either team in the first half.
Akina hit three 3-pointers in the first four-plus minutes of the third quarter, igniting a 15-3 run that gave the Red Raiders a 45-34 advantage.
"I was able to get open shots with the plays that we ran," said Akina, who finished with 24 points and six 3-pointers. "I got open looks and my point guard Mua was able to get the ball to me. Once I started to hit my shots, our big guys started to make their shots down low, so it was good for us."
The Lunas regained the lead with an 11-0 run that made it 54-51 with 4:53 to play. The score was tied three times after that, the last at 62 with 12.5 seconds left on a score by Lahainaluna junior guard Lukas Williams.
Shairone Thompson finished with 16 points and Jackson Kaka 13 for the Red Raiders. Samuel Kiek had 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Rickard Jr. added 18 points for the Lunas (12-3), the Maui Interscholastic League champion.
'IOLANI 72, MILILANI 53
Top-seeded 'Iolani, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion, used its defense to spark its offense in a quarterfinal win over Mililani.
"Coach always tells us defense starts everything, it's our spark," said 'Iolani senior guard Kainoa Chu, who had a game-high 20 points. "Once we got the defense going, offense came easier and easier."
In a game that featured big runs by both teams, the Trojans surged ahead 17-8 behind 10 points from junior forward Hassan Richardson before the Raiders scored 18 straight going into the second quarter for a 26-17 lead with 4:32 left in the half.
"We really lived off our defense the last so many weeks," 'Iolani coach Dean Shimamoto said. "That's what we've been preaching, that's what we've been spending more than half of our practices on. That's what we fall back on when our offense isn't really going."
The Raiders (13-2) forced 22 turnovers, while committing 10.
Mililani (13-5) used a 12-4 run to close to 30-29 at the half.
"There were a lot of spurts, and there were periods of time where they were hitting tough shots, and they were consistently hitting them," Shimamoto said. "So we were trying to figure out how to get an actual stop. We wanted to get tighter on defense, and offensively we got some good looks, our guys just weren't knocking them down. That's what we preached at halftime: stops and makes. Not just good defense and good shots, we wanted stops and makes."
The Raiders emerged with some breathing room after hitting four 3-pointers in a four-minute span of the third quarter, with two from junior guard Trevyn Tulonghari, to move ahead 50-39 with two minutes left in the period. They would carry that momentum into the fourth quarter with a 56-41 lead.
The Trojans closed to 56-47 on a short jumper by Richardson with 6:19 left but wouldn't get any closer.
'Iolani was content to be patient on offense and penetrate only with an opening, forcing the Trojans to foul. All but two of 'Iolani's points in the fourth quarter came off free throws as the Raiders were 14 of 18 from the line.
"We try to practice free throws every day," Chu said. "We can still work on our free throws a little more. I missed a couple, and others missed."