HHSAA boys hoops: Semifinal wrap

by Paul Honda on February 22, 2014

And just like that, two OIA schools are a win away from capturing state titles in boys basketball for the first time in, well, forever.

Farrington knocked out Maryknoll 63-57 in the Division I semifinal round of the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA State Championships on Friday night at Neal Blaisdell Arena. It was a battle of enormous talents and unyielding will. Maryknoll played well, but Farrington was, as Spartans coach Kelly Grant noted, deeper.

When a few contributors struggle, other guys step up. That was the case for the Governors, who got solid, poised play from Tua Unutoa and reserve post Seu

Meanwhile, at Earl C. Holmer Gymnasium on the Kalani High School campus, the Falcons stunned Kohala 70-69 and are now in the D-II state final. They’ll take on another unseeded team, Hawaii Prep.

Kalani got 19 points and seven rebounds from high-flying Brandon Roberts. Cory Mitchell (12 points), Alex Tungpalan (11 points, including 3-for-7 from deep) and Jaron Yamauchi (nine boards, five assists) helped make it a night to remember in Kalani Valley.

The win over Kohala wasn’t so much shocking — even though Kohala is the BIIF D-II champion — as it is timely. Kalani is playing its best basketball of the season, and that’s what was needed against a hot Kohala squad.

Now HPA gets its shot at a first basketball state championship, even though point guard Kalen Camero is out with a concussion suffered in the BIIF playoffs. The depth that BIIF watchers spoke of is coming through for Ka Makani, who overpowered Seabury Hall 58-35 in the other semi at Kalani.

Justas Gecas (16 points), David Ovbagbedia (14) have been much touted. Gecas did have eight turnovers in the win; Ovbagbedia had none. HPA shot 51 percent from the field and limited the Spartans to 30-percent accuracy, and dominated the boards 35-20.

Now that Kalani won’t be home for the first time in the tourney, it’ll be interesting to see how they respond to a neutral court against HPA. Both teams are in for a big change at Blaisdell, where depth perception for shooters can be an issue.

As for top-seeded ‘Iolani, the D-I tourney has been so much fun. The Raiders have been elegant, physical, efficient… they sliced up Campbell’s 1-2-2 zone like no other foe in the last week. Between the penetration of guards Zach Buscher (six assists) and Erik Yamada (three dimes), the Raiders had little trouble forcing the defense to shift. The guards found open teammates across the floor over and over.

Ikaika Phillip was his usual, silent-but-dangerous self. He had 23 points, including eight in a quick Raiders run to start the second half. The Sabers just never got going, continuously trying to penetrate against ‘Iolani’s man defense, but they ran into trouble at the rim. Hugh Hogland, the 6-7 freshman, had SEVEN blocks in just 17 minutes of action.

Saturday’s ‘Iolani-Farrington matchup could be epic. But right now, ‘Iolani appears to be completely in sync, dictating tempo, being the aggressor and winning rather easily each night. These two teams did not meet once this season, so this is exotic territory for each.

It’s No. 1 vs. No. 2. Championship night can’t get here soon enough.

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