2 months later, Punahou and Kahuku will settle score

Kahuku’s Tolu Smith was unstoppable according to Maryknoll coach Kelly Grant. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Nobody has forgotten that day in December when Punahou and Kahuku played to the very end.

The game was tied at 48 on Dec. 20 when Cole Arceneaux made the winning shot, giving Punahou a first-day win over Kahuku in the St. Francis Holiday Hoops Classic. Photos after the game showed that the ball was still in Arceneaux’s shooting hand when the clock hit :00.

Friday’s final in Snapple/HHSAA Boys Basketball State Championships might go down to the wire. Again. Kahuku-Punahou will be also be a rematch of last year’s state final, won by the Red Raiders 70-55.

Punahou’s 75-69 win over Moanalua in Thursday’s semifinal at Stan Sheriff Center was 45 minutes of warp-speed, fastbreak basketball with physical, tough defense. Punahou (28-4) led by 17, 65-48, with less than 3 minutes left, then shot 10-for-20 at the free-throw line to give Moanalua hope.

Na Menehune cut the game to 73-69 in the final minute before Punahou finally put the game away. Zayne Chong scored 22 points, but in a game they had wrapped up, he ultimately played 29 minutes because they simply couldn’t put the game away earlier. That was good for Punahou’s offensive numbers, but after three games this week, how much will the Buffanblu still have in the tank in 24 hours?

>> Punahou shot 51 percent from the field (29-for-57)
>> They shot 50 percent from the foul line (13-for-26), perhaps due to fatigue in the final minutes
>> They dominated the glass with a 37-24 edge on Moanalua
>> They allowed Na Menehune to shoot 49 percent from the floor (24-for-49), including 8-for-17 from deep

Punahou’s other starters all played 24 minutes with the exception of Hunter Hosoda, who played 21. Duke Clemens was efficient with 16 points on 8-for-13 shooting with seven rebounds. Kaulana Makaula had six points and six rebounds, and Arceneaux finished with 11 points, three assists and two steals. Chong had four of his team’s nine steals.

Punahou’s Les Falatea sank a 3-pointer in a semifinal win over Moanalua. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Moanalua (18-13) may have been inconsistent for most of the season, going 5-5 in the OIA East, but on the big stage, Coach Byron Mello’s team played its best basketball. Between Caleb Casinas (21 points, freshman Geremy Robinson (18) and Saige Pulu (13), Moanalua’s offensive firepower was on display. Sophomore DiAeris McRaven, a 6-5 center, finished with nine points, three boards and three blocks while going up against Punahou’s mix of Clemens, Maninoa Tufono and Cole Mausolf.

It may have been a bit sloppy, but Punahou is in the state final while ILH champion Maryknoll is not. The Spartans lost to Kahuku 49-43 in the other semifinal, setting up what quite a few fans had anticipated during the offseason. Kahuku (27-4), the defending champion, is back in the title game.

“It’s surreal,” Kahuku senior Tolu Smith said.

“Tolu was a beast,” Maryknoll coach Kelly Grant said. “We had no answer for him. We beat the defense on drives, but he was always there.”

Just like that, a magnificent Maryknoll season comes up just a bit short in the semifinal round. The discipline of Kahuku’s swarming, hustling defense with the 6-foot-10 Smith in the paint led to some eye-popping numbers.

>> Maryknoll shot 32.7 percent from the field (18-for-55)
>> The Spartans were 5-for-22 (23 percent) from the arc
>> Maryknoll shot just three free throws in the entire game (2-for-3)
>> They also grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and outboarded Kahuku 28-25

Then there are these numbers by Kahuku.

>> 18-for-34 from the field (53 percent)
>> 43 percent from the arc (3-for-7)
>> 10-for-12 at the foul line (83 percent)

Smith and Marcus Damuni led Kahuku with seven rebounds each. Smith and Ethan Erickson each had three steals. Kahuku also had 14 turnovers.

“We’ve got to keep our turnovers down,” Smith said.

Kahuku, with 3-for-7 shooting from the arc, had its second-straight day of clutch perimeter work. The Red Raiders were 7-for-18 in a quarterfinal win over Kamehameha-Hawaii. That has taken much of the burden off their 6-foot-10 senior, Smith, who scored 17 points for the second night in a row.

“If we hold him under 20 (points), that’s a win,” said Makaula, a versatile 6-3 defender. “Have him kick the ball out. They’re not that great shooters.”

That may have been true prior to the state tourney, but now it could be any of the Red Raider starters hitting from deep. Lokana Enos. Robbie Sauvao. Point guard Ruanui Winitana. The Red Raiders are shooting 40 percent from 3-point land (10-for-25) during this tourney.

Smith can expect what he saw back in December: constant fronting, Punahou bringing backside help, perhaps even guards like Chong and Arceneaux darting in constantly. It’s a royal mess that Punahou creates for any big who tries to put the ball on the floor. Even a stellar low-post scorer with tremendous footwork and IQ like Smith has to be careful.

Division I

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 12Konawaena vs. MoanaluaMoan, 62-52Konawaena
2Feb. 12Kahuku vs. KailuaKah, 54-38Kahuku
3Feb. 12Punahou vs. McKinleyPun, 59-39Punahou
4Feb. 12KS-Maui vs. KapoleiKapo, 49-34KS-Maui
5Feb. 14(1) Maryknoll vs. KapoleiMryk, 57-42Moanalua
6Feb. 14(4) KS-Hawaii vs. KahukuKah, 62-37Moanalua
7Feb. 14(2) Kalaheo vs. MoanaluaMoan, 52-50McKinley
8Feb. 14(3) Lahainaluna vs. PunahouPun, 50-40McKinley
9*Feb. 15Kapolei vs. KS-HawaiiKapo, 57-54Stan Sheriff Center
10*Feb. 15Kalaheo vs. LahainalunaLah, 61-50Stan Sheriff Center
11Feb. 15Maryknoll vs. KahukuKah, 49-43Stan Sheriff Center
12Feb. 15Moanalua vs. PunahouPun, 75-69Stan Sheriff Center
13*Feb. 16Kapolei vs. LahainalunaLah, 57-55Stan Sheriff Center
14*Feb. 16Maryknoll vs. MoanaluaMryk, 67-52Stan Sheriff Center
15Feb. 16Kahuku vs. PunahouPun, 64-37Stan Sheriff Center
* — consolation


  1. steve February 15, 2018 10:19 pm

    the seeding was BS. Maryknoll/Kahuku should’ve been a title matchup. Punahou should’ve been playing Kahuku in the semis. The refs were horrible, Spartans shot 3 FT’s the whole game while being the aggressor for the entire time. Spartans weren’t shooting all 3’s as half of their attempts were in the paint. Just typical high school horrible refereeing again.

  2. Public school February 16, 2018 5:39 am

    Why was the seeding BS?
    Kahuku lost in the OIA championship game to Kalaheo. OIA champ always has a first round bye.
    Had to many upsets in the OIA playoffs that’s why the bracket ended up that way.

  3. Frank February 16, 2018 9:45 am

    Here is what I wonder about tonight’s game.

    #1 – Will Smith & Winitana leave Kahuku on Monday and move off island like Fotu did last year after the season is over?

    #2 – Will some Punahou guards roll their shorts up even higher? The HHSAA has to make a rule to stop this. It’s embarrassing.

    I pick Kahuku to win by 4.

  4. LiveAloha February 16, 2018 10:35 am

    Frank: your comment made me laugh. Thanks

  5. hadafakaya February 16, 2018 12:42 pm

    # 20 from punawho tried the same thing on S Avea last year, he going eat his words again!

  6. Coach C February 16, 2018 1:25 pm

    Frank, in the Hhsaa State wrestling Kamehameha got doc -1 point for a tight uniform. They lost Team States to Leileihua by 1 point.

    I see Kahuku by 8. Tolu is a beast.

  7. OIA is a JOKE February 16, 2018 8:02 pm

    hahhahaahha kahuku beating punahou? they couldn’t even beat kalaheo when it counted. Kahuku is weak even though they tried to bring outsiders to their team. Tolu is overrated, he’s soft and his performance against a smaller maryknoll and punahou shows it.

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