A finale to remember: Players scribe about inaugural Damien Farias Senior Classic

The Damien Farias Senior Classic drew a hearty crowd to Saint Louis' Clarence T.C. Ching Gymnasium. Photo courtesy of Mark Revuelto (Mar. 12, 2022)

There was no championship involved.

In fact, the final high school game in the careers of roughly 20 players was purely an investment of sweat and time. The reward: friendships for life. It was a good time to be young and in one’s prime at the inaugural Damien Farias Senior Classic on Saturday. From near and far they came to play in the senior exhibition game, which was as much a celebration of the former standout Saint Louis player and devoted assistant coach — as it was pure basketball fun for a new generation.

Team White, led by EJ Kapihe’s 23 points, outscored Team Blue, 132-120, in a free flowing exhibition of OFFENSE before roughly 300 fans on the mauka bleachers of Clarence T.C. Ching Gymnasium. Kapihe, a 6-foot-5 wing, finished off an alley-oop dunk that many players called one of the highlights of the night. Baldwin’s Quintan Akaka, a 6-7 wing, added 19 points and Zach Shapira of Punahou tallied 17.

Trey Lieb of Mililani paced Team Blue with 24 points on eight 3-point bombs. Punahou’s Drake Watanabe tallied 17 points and Malu Cleveland of Kaimuki added 16. The game was coordinated by Saint Louis assistant coach Mark Revuelto. Brenda Palmero and Bryant Bayudan were the coaches. The game will be back in 2023.

“Yes. That’s the plan,” coach Revuelto said.

After a season of battles across the state, these seniors enjoyed camaraderie as Senior Classic teammates. Photo courtesy of Mark Revuelto.

Saint Louis’ Aiva Arquette, the Division I state tournament’s most outstanding player and recent Gatorade player of the year recipient, is busy playing baseball. So is Maryknoll point guard Parker Grant. Arquette and Parker were named honorary team members. So was Saint Louis forward and future Nevada quarterback AJ Bianco, and Kahiau Bruhn, Kamehameha’s 6-foot-5 wing who suffered an injury late in the season.

Here’s the perspective of some of the Senior Classic’s participants, players’ tribune style.

>> Three favorite plays

EJ Kapihe, Kamehameha: “The first play was in the first quarter. Peyton Macapulay got a steal and i followed him and was able to dunk the alley-oop. My second favorite play was a lob play we ran to open up the second half. We had Aiva and AJ draw up the Saint Louis lob play to start off the third quarter. It almost worked, but i didn’t get high enough and I ended up missing the dunk. My last favorite play was a dunk i had in transition after Quintan (Akaka) got a steal.”

Trey Lieb, Mililani: “I think there are too many plays to remember that were good, but I definitely think that Peyton’s lob to EJ was a nice play.”

Drew Triplett, Maui Prep: “Trey pulled from the logo and made it. Hayden behind the back pass to me under the rim for a layup. To start the game, my first possession on offense, O’shen ran right to me to defend me and we both started laughing.”

Jack Jones, ‘Iolani: “EJ drew up a lob play at halftime for himself and it worked. All of Peyton’s ridiculous passes. Being able to finish the game with a dunk!”

Hayden Bayudan, Saint Louis: “One, I had two behind-the-back passes while I was driving baseline to both Drew and Malu for a score. Two, Trey pulling up from the logo and hitting it to give us the lead in the fourth. Three, Jack’s dunk at the end of the game to close things out was real nice.

(Note: Bayudan committed to Whitworth on Friday afternoon during a family visit to the campus.)

O’Shen Cazimero, Kohala: “My first point of the game! EJ’s alley-oop dunk! Trey heating up from the three ball!”

Amari Westmoreland-Vendiola, Kahuku: “EJ’s alley-oop, and Drew, Hayden, Ocean, and Payton making flashy passes on the floor.”

Quintan Akaka, Baldwin: “My three favorite plays were the lob to EJ, a pick-and-roll play with Jack Jones and the 3-point shoot outs on both sides of the courts.”

Rashawn Fritz-Betiru, Kaimuki: “Honestly just being there was a blessing all by itself. Seen a lot of crazy plays such as slam dunks from my teammate Malu and others, the Mililani kid splashing 3s and seeing everybody get buckets.”

Tyler Grover, Radford: “My favorite three plays were probably: my first 3-pointer, I had a nice pass to Zach for a easy layup, and Jack’s dunk at the end of the game.”

Ehu Schenk-Lee, Kalaheo: “Peyton’s behind the back pass to (Shoncin) Revuelto, EJ’s alley-oop dunk, my and-1 finish that iced the game.”

Bailey Bumanglag, ‘Iolani: “My no-look 3 pointer in front of my uncle, Trey hitting a 3, T mikes hitting a 3.”

Drake Watanabe, Punahou: “A few of my plays. I made a nice layup and a catch-and-shoot 3, and a nice pass.”

Shoncin Revuelto, Saint Louis: “My favorite three plays were when Peyton passed me the ball behind his back, a jump shot and a 3 I made from the corner.”

>> Favorite memory

Bayudan: “Being able to play against my dad as he coached the White team. Also, being able to meet and talk stories before and after the game with all the seniors across the islands. Being able to compete with the best players in the state in my home gym with that being my last high school game.”

Kapihe: “My favorite memory was watching Kahiau (Bruhn of Kamehameha) shoot in the 3-point contest on one leg. It was just good to see him on the court and not laying and home doing nothing. I miss playing with him.”

Lieb: “My favorite memory was probably getting together with the other boys and having a good time while playing the sport we love.”

Triplett: “Being able to play with guys I had never played with before. The environment of playing with the top guys in the state while honoring a terrific former player and now coach was amazing. Along with that being able to play against Quintan Akaka and represent Maui with him.”

Cazimero: “Favorite memory was just playing with the best players in the state. That’s it. It was a good time putting on a show for everyone out here.”

Westmoreland-Vendiola, Kahuku: “My favorite memory of night was being able to be on the floors with those guys and just having fun, bonding and just playing with each other. I’ve known Hayden, Drake, Peyton, Ej, Trey, Kahiau, Bailey from playing each other ever since we where in elementary going into intermediate and now high school. It’s crazy, and now to play with them and to be on the floor and represent the top players in the state it’s a blessing.”

Jones: “My favorite memory was just being able to play a non-competitive game with all of my friends. Having guys from others islands was awesome too.”

Akaka: “What surprised me the most is how everyone played together as a team as if we’ve been practicing together all season.”

Fritz-Betiru: “My favorite part was the warm ups and getting to know others and enjoying the night. Really was a fun, great experience and a way to end my high school career.”

Logan Dias, Maryknoll: “My favorite memory of the night was playing with other players from all over the island, It was a honor playing with the best in the state.”

Grover: “My favorite memory for that night would be, getting to know everyone before and after the game. I think I met everyone that night.”

Schenk-Lee: “Playing with some of the best in the state, and being able to put a show on for the fans.”

Bumanglag: “Just having the opportunity to play one last time with some guys that i played club and trained with as a kid: Trey, Logan, Drake.”

Watanabe: “My favorite memory of the night was the 3-point contest because I did pretty good.”

Shoncin Revuelto: “My favorite memory was playing with all my friends that I had played with and against my whole AAU career.”

>> Did anything surprise you?

Bayudan: I was surprised with how much people came out and supported. It wasn’t just parents, but it was many of our friends who were invited. Also, coaches came and supported, and even players who participated in this past season showed love.”

Kapihe: “I was kinda surprised at how many people showed up. There were a lot of kids from a bunch of different schools but their wasn’t any bad blood between any of us. All the players were at each other’s necks during season, but we all came together as a brotherhood during the game and it became a pretty fun experience. Even the fans were cheering for guys who played for another school. I remember at the end of the first half, I was on the bench but there was 1.8 seconds left and a bunch of Punahou students were yelling to put me in referencing the buzzer-beater i hit against them in ILH playoffs. It was all fun and games, but it meant a lot to see that everyone there came to support each other.”

Lieb: “Nothing really surprised me, it was a good show out from the fans and the game was really fun to play in.”

Triplett: “I wouldn’t say I was surprised by anything it went pretty much how I was expecting it to I knew there was going to be a lot of talent on the floor, but I was just really thankful to have been able to partake in the event.”

Cazimero: “The amount of points that was scored and all the dunks that happened!”

Westmoreland-Vendiola: “The thing that surprised me was how much points both teams scored.”

Jones: “I loved how many people came out to support us. I wasn’t expecting that many people to show up. The game was really long which I think was a good thing. I wasn’t expecting four 12 minute quarters but it didn’t even seem that long while we were playing.”

Dias: “What surprised me about the game was how hard everyone was playing, I didn’t think anyone would try hard but that made the game fun and interesting. What surprised me about the fans was how much people came out to support us and how loud they were cheering.”

Grover: “I was surprised that everyone was going so hard because when I watch the all star games on TV they aren’t playing that hard, until it gets to the 4th quarter. But i’m glad I had fun and it was so surreal.”

Schenk-Lee: “What surprised me was that all the boys were super cool and we got along really fast. We played as a team and had really good chemistry from the start.”

Bumanglag: “I was surprised there wasn’t any commentators, the crowd was pretty quiet, too.”

Watanabe: “What surprised me was the amount of people that showed up to watch our game. It was really crowded. I really liked how each player had their own school jerseys.”

Shoncin Revuelto: “The one thing that surprised me was how good the game was despite how quickly everything was done. It was a great game with great players and great plays. I will never forget that.”

>> Shout outs

Bayudan: “Shout out to Saint Louis for being able to host this event. Shout out coach Dan (Hale) and coach Mark for making this happen. Shout out coach Brenda and my dad for coaching the two teams. Shout out all the parents and loved ones who supported all of us throughout our journey. Lastly, shout out to all the seniors who competed and who I was able to make friends and build a bond with.”

Lieb: “I’m happy we got to do this and happy I was apart of this game.”

Triplett: “I obviously want to shoutout the Maui Prep team and coaches as I wouldn’t have been able to participate in this event without them. I also want to thank coach Mark from Saint Louis for having me and all the players for embracing me.”

Cazimero: “I would like to shout out to the winning team yessah! Thank you to everyone who made last night happen and made it enjoyable!”

Westmoreland-Vendiola: “First off I’d like to thank God without him none of this would have been possible. Shoutout to my family for pushing me and getting me to the position I am in today I’m so so grateful for them and the sacrifices they’ve done for me to get to this point, and shoutout my boy Hayden and Trey I’ve been knowing those guys from the beginning those my brothas for real me and Hayden been battling it out since intermediate days, and Trey really like a brother to me played club together we’ve done it all.”

Jones: “I want to shout-out coach Hale, coach Revuelto and Saint Louis for putting on this game for us. Thank you to my family for coming and all of the players for making it such a fun night.”

Akaka: “I appreciate all the coaches and players at this event and I want to thank them for giving me this opportunity to play with other great athletes. I would also like to thank my dad and my brothers for sacrificing their time for me to play the sport I love.”

Fritz-Betiru: “Shout out to everyone who came through to support and of course shoutout to coach Greydon (Espinda), Tayler (Espinda), Shane (Matayoshi) and my teammates this year. I wouldn’t have been there without them.”

Dias: “Thank you to everyone at Saint Louis for putting this event together and allowing us to play one last game. Thank you to my family, friends, and coach’s who have supported me.”

Grover: “Shout out to Trey, Drake, EJ, Cole and Oshen. I love those guys.

Schenk-Lee: “Shout out to saint Louis and coach Mark for making this happen. Thanks to my mom and dad for always supporting me. Special thanks to my uncle Sippy for teaching me all I know about the game.”

Bumanglag: “Shout outs to the fam, 816.”

Watanabe: “Definitely would like to shout out Shoncin’s dad for making the game happen and for us to enjoy these high school memories.”

Shoncin Revuelto: “I would like to give a shout out to my parents for all the sacrifice they made to allow me to play the sport I love. I would also like to thank God for everything He has blessed me and my family with.”


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