Damien captures first state championship

Damien forward Bryce Forbes (22) hung on the rim after a slam dunk against Farrington in the Division II state final back in February. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Maybe they should’ve jumped Division I after all.

There won’t be any complaints from Monarch nation, though. Top-seeded Damien imposed its will from the opening tip and ravaged Farrington 73-50 to capture the Snapple/HHSAA Boys Basketball Division II State Championship on Saturday night at Stan Sheriff Center.

The teams entered the state tourney ranked No. 3 (Damien) and No. 10 (Farrington in the Star-Advertiser Top 10. For a supposed lower-division matchup, it played out with the kind of electricity and passion normally reserved for D-I title battles. Damien closed the season 28-2, including a 12-0 run through ILH D-II.

It was the typical, season-long balance that Damien had to stun D-I powerhouses like Punahou, St. Francis and, yes, No. 1 Maryknoll during preseason. Sophomore Jydon Hall scored 19 points before being disqualified with two technical fouls. Jake Holtz and Bryce Forbes had 13 points each and a combined three slam dunks. Freshman guard Hayden Bayudan also had 13 points.

“I’m surprised we went undefeated,” said Dorien Penebacker, one of three seniors.

Coach Alvin Stevenson calls Penebacker “Mr. Glue.”

“I knew we would be a good team, but worked hard and that’s why we’re where we are today,” Penebacker said.

Damien’s super-explosive start — the Monarchs led 23-8 in the second quarter — was reminiscent of the kind of power Kahuku had during its D-I state-title run three years ago.

“We wanted to give them our first punch. The last couple games, we’ve been taking punches, kind of sitting back. We wanted to come out on all cylinders,” Stevenson said moments before he entered the Damien locker room and was showered with water by his players.

“First game, Jake was double- and triple-teamed, getting frustrated. Last night, I called him and gave him a challenge. It’s all on you big fella, and he said, ‘Coach I been waiting for this all my life.’ He shows up. Bryce gives us a great tournament. Those guys, and our dynamic duo, sop and fresh amazing all year
Dorien our glue guy. Lindon (Sevilleja Jr.) is the heartbeat of our team,” said Stephenson, in his eighth season as Damien head coach.

“It took a little bit of heart,” Penebacker said. “We had the talent, but we worked hard and we have the Damien grit, to play hard and be scrappy. The young boys weren’t used to that, so us seniors, me Lindon and Tanner (Souza) showed them.”

Hall was superlative at times with his flash-quick drives, and he injured his arm on a nasty fall in the third quarter. He returned in the fourth, picking up a technical foul.

“He drives me nuts sometimes,” Stephenson said of his mercurial, high-intensity guard.

Farrington was superb in the OIA season, beating four Top 10 teams and moving to No. 5 at one point. But the Govs were more dangerous on their home court. They were 3-3 on neutral turf coming into tonight’s Battle of Houghtailing Street. Damien was 9-0 on neutral courts and 8-2 against Top 10 foes coming into the game.

Though the neighboring schools had never met on the court before the title game, they had several common opponents.

** vs. common opponents
Damien 66, @ Kalaheo 57
@ Farrington 70, Kalaheo 68

Maryknoll 60, @ Farrington 38
Damien 55, Maryknoll 47 (neutral)

Damien 62, Kailua 57 (neutral)
@ Farrington 72, Kailua 57

Damien 66, Kaiser 53 (neutral)
@ Kaiser 62, Farrington 53
Farrington 56, Kaiser 43 (neutral)

Damien 86, @ Castle 33
@ Farrington 73, Castle 27

All the history mattered less, of course. The Monarchs were simply prepared for their first state title, just one year after reaching the state final for the first time. The good news gets better. Their top scorers and rebounders will return next season when Damien makes the move to Division I. Coach Stephenson had committed his team to D-II on the declaration date to the ILH last June, then felt some regret when the season began.

If this team stays intact, there will be a strong argument for the Monarchs to be the top team in next season’s first poll — as they were this year.


  1. JetWavy February 23, 2019 9:30 pm

    If there ever was a team that shouldn’t have declared DII, this was it. Damien had absolutely no business in DII at all. Even more so than when Kalaheo won the DII state title years back.

  2. They earned it, they deserve it!!! February 23, 2019 9:43 pm

    Haters always gonna hate. First ever championship, be happy for what they accomplished. They worked hard to win this, let em enjoy it and stop the hate.

  3. Champions! February 23, 2019 10:43 pm

    Congrats Damien!! Fantastic season! I feel bad for those that have to leave salty comments here after your first state championship. Congrats on your hard earned victory! Ignore the haters!!

  4. Finally February 23, 2019 10:47 pm

    That’s the most coverage Paul Honda has done on Damien all season. It took a championship to make it happen. Auurite!

  5. Seattleguy February 24, 2019 12:15 pm

    Congratulations Damien!! From a proud alum living in Seattle!! Also agree with another comment, why had there not been more coverage on Damien’s progress this season? There’s more to basketball in Hawaii than the D1 schools. And no I got nothing against Punahou (nephew attends) or Maryknoll, but be balance in your coverage.

  6. AlumniDad February 24, 2019 1:47 pm

    NVM the negative comment . Congrats to you boys. 1 championship is enough to move up. Well represented.

  7. ??? February 24, 2019 8:01 pm

    The Ng kid from St Francis got way more coverage last year in DII than Damien did all this year. But they are State Champs so I’m sure they don’t care..

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