If you haven’t noticed, Punahou is really coming around, and despite a slow start to the boys basketball season, the Buffanblu are now in the states.
There are a lot of reasons for that, including teamwork, unselfishness and — in the case of Friday’s night’s ILH tournament victory over Kamehameha — deadly 3-point shooting.
Another reason is the emergence of sophomore point guard Cole Arceneaux. He has played all season, but his role has increased steadily. In Punahou’s platoon system, he really changes the pace to a faster game when he comes in.
Changing the pace is one thing, but Arceneaux has the ability to totally take over the rhythm of a game with his speed, quickness and deft ballhandling skills. He pushes hard and usually kicks out to the deadly 3-point shooters.
“It’s going to take me a while to actually process that we got the state berth,” said Arceneaux, whose father, Darnell Arceneaux, was a star quarterback at Saint Louis and the University of Utah and is an assistant coach with the Buffanblu. “Going 1-4 to start the season, like that’s crazy.”
The boys wearing the Buff and Blue uniforms have won eight of their last nine games and face a major test today against league regular-season champion ‘Iolani. The winner will get the spoils, bragging rights for the unbelievably hotly contested 2016 ILH season and a seeded berth into the state tournament.
“We have to have a short-term memory (about the tourney win),” Arceneaux added. “We gotta go get it and get that top state berth for the ILH. ‘Iolani’s a great team, defensively and offensively. Everyone says they stall, but really, they look to get a great shot. If it’s gonna take ’em four minutes to get a great shot, then it’s going to take ’em four minutes to get a great shot. That’s the way they play and it’s not stalling. We’re still rising, so whatever team peaks at the right time will get that berth.”
We’ll find out today, starting at 6 p.m. at the ‘Iolani gym. Four other solid ILH teams fell away from the field, one by one — Mid-Pacific, Maryknoll, Saint Louis and now Kamehameha.
“We play these games to figure out who those best two teams are and those two teams have been established,” said Kamehameha head coach Greg Tacon, who also said his team was devastated after Friday’s loss.
Punahou coach Darren Matsuda thought both teams played top-notch on Friday.
“It was a very mature game by both teams,” he said. “Both teams took really good shots. We were pretty hot (shooting) today.”
Matsuda added another thing about his Buffanblu’s late-season surge that is a bit reminiscent of ‘Iolani and Arceneaux’s observation.
“Our boys are always looking for the best shot,” he said. “If they don’t feel like they’ve got a good shot, they don’t take it.”
Case in point, one time on Friday, Arceneaux drove the lane and could have hit an easy layup, but kicked it all the way to the corner.
Well, maybe his was the best shot at the time. Ah, he’s only a sophomore. Give it to the pure shooters. More points will come from Arceneaux as he gets older — and only if those points are needed. You figure the more he passes the more defenses will lay off him and then the basket starts looking just a little bit wider.