Then, and now, the Punahou Buffanblu refer to it as the 212 Effect.
Screened onto their warmup shirts last season, 212 is the temperature at which water boils. It is also what the Buffanblu refer to when their fullcourt pressure, whether by man-to-man coverage or zone presses, starts to wear an opponent down.
That was the cumulative effect on Monday night against McKinley in a 59-39 win in the opening round of the Snapple/HHSAA Boys Basketball State Championships at Hemmeter Fieldhouse. The gathering of about 300 fans was docile in general, but Punahou (26-4 overall including nonconference games) didn’t need any extra juice. Of McKinley’s 16 turnovers, 13 came on Punahou steals.
By the end of the first half, the Buffanblu had already turned five steals directly into 10 points worth of layups, rallying from a 7-6 deficit for a 26-12 lead.
Cole Arceneaux, Zayne Chong, Hunter Hosoda and Kaulana Makaula were active and busy from the start. Chong finished with 12 points and four steals, Arceneaux had 14 points and three steals, and Hosoda added seven points and three steals. Makaula shot 5-for-6 from the field and finished with 11 points. The four combined for just four turnovers.
“We think of it as landing early jabs,” Arceneaux said of the tight on-ball pressure. “Gradually, we can wear the other team down.”
The alternative might have been to sit back in halfcourt man-to-man defense and let McKinley patiently reverse the ball from one side to the other. That proved to be a dangerous approach for many teams this season, including Kahuku, which pulled away late in a playoff game last week for a tough win.
“They’re a tough team with scrappy guards. They probably give the most effort in the state,” Arceneaux said. “That’s how they stayed with Kahuku, so we learned their sets. We tried to keep Kyle (Moraga) under 10 points.”
With Arceneaux and Tamatoa Falatea taking turns defending against McKinley’s top scorer, Moraga finished with seven points on 3-for-12 shooting.
The Buffanblu went small to match up with the visiting Tigers, leaving center Duke Clemens on the bench for much of the first half.
“That’s a very tough matchup for everybody,” Punahou coach Darren Matsuda said. “Duane (Ontai) goes with a small-ball lineup.”
That means Frank Camacho, who likes to score from the elbows and 3-point arc, is McKinley’s de facto center. Matsuda opted to start Maninoa Tufono, a 6-2 linebacker who is arguably the strongest athlete on any court. After Punahou built the lead, McKinley went to man defense, and that’s when Clemens entered. He finished the game with eight points on 4-for-4 shooting in just 12 minutes.
It all starts, however, with Punahou’s will to defend all 94 feet. The 212 effect. Lahainaluna (18-6), the Maui Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion, has not experienced it yet. The teams meet in the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Tip-off at McKinley Student Council Gymnasium is set for 5 p.m.
“It’s always a tough matchup,” Matsuda said. “Coach (Jason) Justus pounds the ball inside and they’re very disciplined. They play great defense and have a lot of ball control.”
|1||Feb. 12||Konawaena vs. Moanalua||Moan, 62-52||Konawaena|
|2||Feb. 12||Kahuku vs. Kailua||Kah, 54-38||Kahuku|
|3||Feb. 12||Punahou vs. McKinley||Pun, 59-39||Punahou|
|4||Feb. 12||KS-Maui vs. Kapolei||Kapo, 49-34||KS-Maui|
|5||Feb. 14||(1) Maryknoll vs. Kapolei||Mryk, 57-42||Moanalua|
|6||Feb. 14||(4) KS-Hawaii vs. Kahuku||Kah, 62-37||Moanalua|
|7||Feb. 14||(2) Kalaheo vs. Moanalua||Moan, 52-50||McKinley|
|8||Feb. 14||(3) Lahainaluna vs. Punahou||Pun, 50-40||McKinley|
|9*||Feb. 15||Kapolei vs. KS-Hawaii||Kapo, 57-54||Stan Sheriff Center|
|10*||Feb. 15||Kalaheo vs. Lahainaluna||Lah, 61-50||Stan Sheriff Center|
|11||Feb. 15||Maryknoll vs. Kahuku||Kah, 49-43||Stan Sheriff Center|
|12||Feb. 15||Moanalua vs. Punahou||Pun, 75-69||Stan Sheriff Center|
|13*||Feb. 16||Kapolei vs. Lahainaluna||Lah, 57-55||Stan Sheriff Center|
|14*||Feb. 16||Maryknoll vs. Moanalua||Mryk, 67-52||Stan Sheriff Center|
|15||Feb. 16||Kahuku vs. Punahou||Pun, 64-37||Stan Sheriff Center|
|* — consolation|