Despite loss to Sierra Canyon, a special night for Punahou’s Peyton Macapulay

Punahou point guard Peyton Macapulay scored 12 points and provided key ballhandling against Sierra Canyon defenders, including Bronny James. Paul Honda/

At 5 feet, 9 inches, Peyton Macapulay has always defied the odds on a basketball court.

The guy is, always was, always will be a blur. Sierra Canyon left the premises with a 65-39 win over Hawaii powerhouse Punahou on Saturday night, but fans on both sides of the gym, whether from Punahou, Waialua or otherwise, brought their biggest roars for Macapulay’s deft thread-the-needle passes and impeccable reverse layups in transition.

For 32 minutes it felt like the ‘Iolani Classic was back with a bang. After two long years since the last Classic, it is, as former ‘Iolani coach Dean Shimamoto calls it, Christmas for basketball fans.

Bronny James was the headliner, and he covered Macapulay much of the night. But Macapulay did his damage away from James, son of LeBron, next in line to the throne. James was stout with 14 points, connecting on four 3-pointers to help the Trailblazers stretch an eight-point first-quarter lead to 20 during the third quarter.

It was passable as first-night games go for elite high school teams traveling across the pond to play in the ‘Iolani Classic. Trailblazers coach Andre Chevalier called his team’s play “horrible.”

“There’s no excuses. We have to be better. We came over here to compete and give everybody our best effort, and we didn’t do that today,” Chevalier said. “We might have had decent ball movement. We didn’t finish shots today. We didn’t come out ready to play. I think they’re excited about being in Hawaii and did not come ready to play.”

Having James as a connecting force is a security blanket.

“Bronny has a super-high IQ. He plays hard every night and he’s only going to get better,” Chevalier said.

The Trailblazers of Sierra Canyon advanced to the quarterfinals of the ‘Iolani Classic with a 65-39 win over Punahou on Saturday. Paul Honda/

Sierra Canyon’s length, height and athleticism are made for fullcourt pressure, but Punahou wouldn’t bend. After breaking the press consistently, the Trailblazers settled in with solid man-to-man defense.

“Our coach (Darren Matsuda) was saying that they’re going to try to press us from the beginning. We practiced our press break at practice. Hat’s off to them. They’re a good team, but just passing the ball against their press was our goal,” Macapulay said.

The national powerhouse Trailblazers tried more pressure later, but it was their perimeter shooting that made the most significant defense, along with rim protection from 6-foot-9 Kijani Wright.

Punahou embraced the challenge of facing the tournament favorite in the opening round.

“We’re a pretty young team compared to my other team (in 2019-20) that I played with,” said Macapulay, who suffered cramps to both calves late in the game. “It’s a new team, trying to get a new rhythm with a lot of young kids. Me, Drake (Watanabe) and Zach (Shapira) are some of the only seniors. I’m just humbled and blessed to be a senior captain.”

Watanabe finished with five points.

“Even though Bronny had the size advantage, Peyton was definitely way quicker than him,” he said. “Honestly, they’re a good team. They’re solid. I wasn’t doing that good. It’s all right, though.”

Shapira, a 6-6 center, blocked two shots, including a scoop shot by James, and helped the Buffanblu contest the Trailblazers’ inside shot attempts all game long.

Now, a day off. Normally, the Classic doesn’t have a day off this early, but there it is.

The Trailblazers are about work, but CIF rules prohibit practicing on Sundays, Chevalier said.

“We’re going to try and do sightseeing tomorrow,” he said. “We’ll try to enjoy Hawaii.”

Sierra Canyon coach Andre Chevalier was far from satisfied with his team’s play in the opening round of the ‘Iolani Classic, but a day off before the quarterfinals can’t hurt. The Trailblazers plan to do some sightseeing. Paul Honda/


  1. ??? December 19, 2021 3:32 pm

    BOYCOTT Iolani Classic!

  2. Falcon Future December 20, 2021 11:55 am

    Boycott? Why?

  3. ??? December 20, 2021 12:55 pm

    Why can Iolani pack thousands of fans into Farrington stadium, some with no masks & sitting 3 inches apart be allowed but Iolani won’t allow any fans in the Iolani classic? #DASWHY

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