Last year was an unprecedented edition of the ‘Iolani Classic for local boys basketball teams.
For the first time in tournament history since its expansion to 16 teams, three teams from Oahu finished in the top six when it was all said and done.
It was an even more incredible feat considering Hawaii teams (excluding host ‘Iolani) had gone winless in the opening round in 12 consecutive years. Punahou in 2004 was the last team to win a first-round game until both Kahuku, which finished third, and Kailua, which placed sixth, advanced into the winner’s bracket. The Raiders were fifth.
‘Iolani opened the 2017 edition of the classic with a 55-25 win over Pearl City on Friday before giving way to the rest of the state to try its hand at some of the best talent the rest of the country has to offer.
Moanalua got the first crack at knocking off a mainland team, but couldn’t handle the up-and-down tempo of Rainer Beach (Wash.), which rolled to a 99-53 win. The Vikings, who were making their tournament debut, played without 6-foot-5 forward Kevin Porter, who last month signed with Southern California, and 6-foot-9 center Nehemie Kabeya.
Micah Monroe picked up the slack with a game-high 26 points, including two impressive fourth-quarter dunks, and Freddie Roberson added 20.
The Vikings played fast, quick, and weren’t afraid to press. They finally relented with two minutes left in the game and fell a point shy of the 100 mark.
Kamehameha, which figures to contend for both an ILH and state championship this year behind seniors Kamren Victorino-Kato and Kobe Young, couldn’t slow down Taft and senior guard Torshawn Roland, who torched the Warriors from behind the arc in the third game of the day.
Roland buried three 3’s in a row to start the game for Taft and ended the first half swishing a fifth 3-pointer from the left corner as time expired to give him 21 points at the break and the Toreadors a 47-28 advantage.
Roland finished with a game-high 32 points and seven 3-pointers total. When he wasn’t burying shots from the outside, Roland watched 5-foot-11 point guard Kihel Clark, who will play for Virginia next year, carve up the Kamehameha defense. Clark added a silky-smooth 24 points and was a crowd favorite from start to finish.
The nightcap pitted Kalaheo against Bishop O’Dowd, which is making its third appearance in the classic. Kalaheo’s 31 wins all-time in the tournament trail only ‘Iolani (53), Kamehameha (45) and Fairfax (41).
UPDATE: The Dragons led the Mustangs 45-30 at halftime and pulled away for a 78-54 win.
Saturday’s four first-round games include Lahainaluna facing No. 2 Montverde (Fla.) and Maryknoll challenging No. 14 Greensboro Day (N.C.). Also playing is Fairfax (Calif.) against Leilehua and Jefferson (Ore.) against Kapolei.