Hayden Bauydan was an eighth-grader, but had a spot on the bench at the Stan Sheriff Center last year when Damien lost to St. Francis in the Division II state championship game.
A year later, Bayudan is the starting point guard for the Monarchs, who have rolled their way back to the state final following a 78-50 thumping of a good Seabury Hall squad on Friday night at Kalani.
Six-foot-7 junior Bryce Forbes led four Monarchs in double figures with 20 points and Bayudan, who was 9-for-9 from the free-throw line, added 18 points and four steals for Damien (14-0), ranked No. 3 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10 despite playing in Division II.
“It means everything, especially to our seniors that have been here since the seventh grade,” Damien coach Alvin Stephenson said. “I’m just so happy for them to be able to get back to that point and win a state title for a school which would be the first ever.”
The Monarchs go 6-foot-3, 6-4, 6-7 in their starting frontcourt of Dorien Penebacker, Jake Holtz and Forbes, but it’s the young duo in the backcourt, Bayudan and sophomore Jydon Hall, who have had to step up quickly despite their youth.
Hall finished with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals and didn’t commit a turnover. He combined with Bayudan to go 15-for-15 from the three-throw line.
“They’ve grown up a lot. We depend on them and try to put them in good positions,” Stephenson said. “(Hall) has been with us last year and been to the state title game and this year he’s really worked on his game. (Bayudan) was with us on the bench and saw a lot of the things we are trying to do.”
Bayudan knew all along he was making the jump to the varsity level with a pretty good team and got a quick glimpse at playing against the best teams in the state with Damien’s tough nonconference schedule.
“At first it was kind of tough because the first game I thought, ‘oh man, these guys are pretty good,’ ” Bayudan said. “I just tried to play my game, do what I do best, attack, play to my strength, shoot, handle the ball and at the end of the day I give it all to my teammates because they allow me to be me.”
Seabury Hall (12-2) hung tough with the Monarchs for a quarter, hitting three 3-pointers in the opening eight minutes to trail only by three.
The Spartans made just one three the rest of the way as the Monarchs turned long rebounds into easy fast-break scoring opportunities in a 23-10 second quarter to go up 16 at the break.
Damien led by as many as 27 to end the third quarter before the Spartans opened with a 9-0 run to start the fourth quarter.
Hall stopped the run with a steal and an and-1 layup at the other end.
Damien had 15 steals and forced 22 Seabury Hall turnovers.
“Overall, a ‘W’ and we’ll take that however it comes,” Stephenson said. “We’re ready to try to grind out wins.”
Noah Payne, who hit two early 3’s for the Spartans, scored a game-high 15 points for Seabury Hall, which was knocked out of the tournament in last year’s quarterfinals by the Monarchs.
Masyn Johnson added 12 points and seven rebounds and Kama Konohia had a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.
HHSAA D-II Playoffs
|1||Feb. 21||(1) Damien vs. Kohala||DMS, 73-42||Kalani|
|2||Feb. 21||(4) Seabury Hall vs. Kaiser||SH, 42-39||Kalani|
|3||Feb. 21||(2) Farrington vs. Kauai||Far, 62-52||St. Francis|
|4||Feb. 21||(3) Hawaii Prep vs. University||HPA, 50-42||St. Francis|
|5*||Feb. 22||Kohala vs. Kaiser||Kais, 75-57||St. Francis|
|6*||Feb. 22||Kauai vs. University||Kauai, 50-48 (OT)||St. Francis|
|7||Feb. 22||Damien vs. Seabury Hall||DMS, 78-50||Kalani|
|8||Feb. 22||Farrington vs. Hawaii Prep||Far, 58-44||Kalani|
|9*||Feb. 23||Kaiser vs. Kauai||Kauai, 52-38||Stan Sheriff Center|
|10*||Feb. 23||Seabury Hall vs. Hawaii Prep||HPA, 48-34||Stan Sheriff Center|
|11||Feb. 23||Damien vs. Farrington||DMS, 73-50||Stan Sheriff Center|
|* — consolation|