2017 Top Stories: Kahuku wins boys hoops title

The Kahuku Red Raiders celebrated their 70-55 win over Punahou to win the 2017 boys basketball state championship. Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser

In Tuesday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Paul Honda wrote about the top 10 prep stories of 2017. You can read it here.

Here’s a deeper look at one of the 10 stories.

10. Kahuku captures boys basketball title

While the Kahuku football team generates most of the attention, the boys basketball team drew plenty of enthusiasm from fans during its state-championship run. The Red Raiders were led by All-State Fab 15 selections Jessiya Villa (player of the year), Samuta Avea and Daniel Fotu.

The Red Raiders made their first impact at the ‘Iolani Classic, upsetting Mount Vernon (N.Y.) en route to a third-place finish — the highest ever for a Hawaii team.

Villa scored 23 points and Avea, hampered by an offseason ankle injury early in the season, finished strong with 20 points and 11 boards as the Red Raiders defeated Punahou 70-55 in the state final.

Villa, who grew up on Oahu, was a transfer from Virginia, the nephew of coach Brandyn Akana. Avea, born and raised on the North Shore, had returned from a one-year stint in Utah. Fotu, younger brother of former UH player Isaac Fotu, arrived in the islands from New Zealand in time to play in the ‘Iolani Classic. That led to some criticism from other teams and fans, especially after Fotu returned to New Zealand following basketball season.

Nonetheless, the Red Raiders were finally able to add a state boys basketball trophy to the countless number of football trophies in the case.


  1. SimSima January 3, 2018 12:53 pm

    Watching how this past ‘Iolani Classic played out with the local teams getting blown out, I gotta give huge credit to what that Kahuku squad did in the 2016 tournament especially when you look at who they really beat. They defeated Mount Vernon who went onto win the New York Class AA state championship, defeated De La Salle who a season earlier lost to Chino Hills in the CIF championship game vs the Ball brothers, and defeated Southwind who lost to Memphis East in the Memphis Class AAA state title game (Memphis East opened as #1 on MaxPreps in this year’s pre-season poll).

  2. 88 January 3, 2018 2:51 pm

    And my boy Fotu left Hawaii back to his native town on the Monday following winning the title! That’s how we do it up in here!

  3. Jet Wavy January 3, 2018 4:25 pm


    The truth is customs & immigration deported him from the country. Official reports claim the reason was that he was whoopin too much ass.

  4. Sasa January 3, 2018 5:26 pm

    Yep, he left and signed a D1 offer to Saint Mary’s…..at least he wasn’t held back for athletic purposes, like many ILH & OIA players, only to strike out….if you going cheat, at least win….suckaz!!!

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