Defense carries Kamehameha over ‘Iolani for title

Kamehameha's Lele Kawaiaea, left, and Laamea Frank grabbed a rebound over Iolani's Frank Felix during the first half on Saturday. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Moments into Kamehameha-‘Iolani, chapter 1, year 2018 A.D., the tempo was slow, the pace was like nothing seen throughout the Surfrider Holiday Classic and the Raiders seemed to have the Warriors set up perfectly for a stunning fall.

Instead, Kamehameha met the challenge with maximum defense, turning a 10-all game into a 19-12 halftime lead, and went on to a 47-30 victory over ‘Iolani on Saturday night to capture the tournament title for a second year in a row.

Kamren Victorino-Kato scored 17 points and Kobe Young added 13 as the Warriors transformed the slower tempo and became efficient.

Kawika Lee led ‘Iolani with six points and seven rebounds.

Kamehameha (9-1) shot 44 percent from the field against a stubborn ‘Iolani man-to-man defense, notching a respectable 13 assists on 22 field goals.

“The pace of the game was awful and I’m sure Dean (Shimamoto of ‘Iolani) would say the same thing,” Warriors coach Greg Tacon said. “But defensively, we were active and (‘Iolani) struggled from the perimeter.”

Defensively, the 6-foot-6 Young and Lele Kawaiaea protected the air space around the rim. Kawaiaea had six points (3-for-3), nine rebounds and three blocks. Kamehameha’s sticky man-to-man defense also siphoned off the perimeter, and the Raiders shot just 1-for-16 from the arc.

“Our defense is unreal, especially compared to last year,” Victorino-Kato said. “We shot horribly, but our defense won this game for us.”

After opening the margin to seven points by intermission, Kamehameha went on a 12-4 run to open the second half. Young hit a baseline jumper, fed Victorino-Kato for a transition bucket, and Laamea Frank connected on a 3 on a feed from Christmas Togiai. After free throws by Victorino-Kato and a follow shot by Kawaiaea, the Warriors had a commanding 31-16 lead midway through the third stanza.

Frank, coming off a career-best 21-point, seven-trey performance against St. Francis, finished with six points on 2-for-3 shooting from the arc. That makes Frank 9-for-11 from deep in his last two games.

‘Iolani made a run late in the third, cutting the lead to 31-24 after Cole Hogland’s coast-to-coast slam. Kamehameha responded with a 14-4 run of its own. Victorino-Kato hit a straightaway 3, fed Young for a slam, and then scored on a give-and-go play for a traditional three-point play. That gave the Warriors a 45-28 lead with about 4 minutes remaining.

Less than a minute later, Tacon emptied his bench. He has been relatively quiet during games, benefiting from a senior-heavy core of returnees. Victorino-Kato sets the tone, and he has been equally aggressive to the rack as he is distributing the ball.

“Kamren is making it easier for other people to get good shots. It’s a maturity and comfortability thing in his own skin. What he wants for the team is to have success,” Tacon said. “He’ll get so much attention from other teams, and Kobe will get so much attention.”

Power on the post. Perimeter skills. Defense at the rim. Defense on the arc. Kamehameha has balance, experience, talent, but Tacon likes the cohesion.

“They’re being really good teammates, encouraging each other and not getting down on each other,” he said. “We have good senior leadership.”

Young has been busy in the paint, active from end to end, playing with a bit of an edge.

“We’ve got so much more potential. Everybody’s got so much more to their game. I think we shocked the state in a way,” he said. “I know Maryknoll and Punahou will play well. All this is good and all, but we’re looking forward to the future.”

St. Francis 72, Kailua 57
Kameron Ng poured in 28 points to lead the Saints over the host Surfriders in the third-place game. This came one night after a 33-point effort in a semifinal loss to Kamehameha, and he played nearly every minute in both contests.

Jett Tanuvasa and Bryce Nishida added 10 points apiece for St. Francis, which went on a 23-10 run in the second quarter to open the lead.

Everett Torres-Kahapea led the Surfriders with 20 points. Isaiah Hopson, a 6-6 two-sport transfer from American Samoa, added 19.

Campbell 62, Maui 58
Mitchell Williams pumped in 19 points to lead four Sabers in double figures. Henry Nixon added 12 points, and Robert Hutchinson and Samuel Sabellona chipped in 10 apiece as Campbell captured fifth place.

Chevy Higashiguchi scored 16 points and Fransver Castro tallied 14 for the Sabers. Jayden Ramos added eight points.

Waianae 44, Waipahu 43
Keliinoe Meyers
scored 13 points and Noa Edwards had all 11 of his points in the first half as the Seariders claimed seventh place.

Daren Rokop led the Marauders with nine points. Daymon Jzay Oasay and Jerold Rivera added eight points each.

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