The last time Punahou and Lahainaluna played, the Buffanblu won.
By a lot.
On Thursday night at Moanalua’s gym, things might be different when the two programs meet in the quarterfinal round of the Snapple/HHSAA Boys Basketball State Championships.
MIL champion Lahainaluna is the third seed. Since losing to Punahou 74-46 at the St. Francis Holiday Classic, the Lunas (18-5) have lost only to Damien and Mission Viejo (Calif.), winning 16 out of their last 18 games.
“Reece Pascua is their guy and they have very quick guards,” Punahou coach Darren Matsuda said. “Coach Jason (Justus) does a great job. They play great defense.”
The Lunas have suited up some of the MIL’s tallest teams ever in recent years, but that trend changed this season. They’re more average in size, but still rely heavily on a disciplined, patient offense and strong defense. They’ll have to contend with Duke Clemens, who scored a team-high 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting tonight in Punahou’s 64-46 opening-round win over visiting Kahuku
Clemens demonstrated the full arsenal of his low-post game with scoop shots, spin moves, floaters and reverse layups.
“I just go to the park with my dad (Teo) and work on my game, use my body,” said Clemens, who signed with UCLA as an offensive lineman.
Kahuku ran into serious trouble when their two main bigs, Ethan Erickson and Marcus Damuni, were sidelined in the first half. Erickson collected his third foul with 1.1 seconds left in the opening quarter and sat out the rest of the half as Punahou turned a 12-11 deficit into a 34-20 lead by the break.
Damuni suffered a scary head injury when a Punahou player landed on his head in a collision in front of Punahou’s rim. Damuni left the game late in the second quarter and did not return because of the dizziness, Kahuku coach Brandyn Akana said.
Punahou went right to Clemens in the third quarter, and he responded with 4-for-4 shooting on the block. There wasn’t a lot of double-teaming as Kahuku chose its poison.
“I was happy with that. We just haven’t had the opportunity to shoot (the 3),” Clemens said. “I’m a good passer, I’ll find people.”
Punahou’s defense was on fire in the second quarter with six steals. Tamatoa Falatea finished with 11 points, including a couple of quick buckets in transition during the pivotal second quarter. The Buffanblu also focused on rebounding.
“Kahuku is a great team. Our coach said we have to win the battle for rebounds,” the future Princeton wide receiver said.
Jakob Kimura added 10 points and guard Kai Nafarrete had five assists. With Peyton Macapulay leading the backcourt and Yoshi Kobayashi fortifying it with defense and hustle, Punahou’s defense was impeccable at times.
The Buffanblu learned quite a bit from their first meeting with Lahainaluna.
“Lahainaluna had a bunch of little guys, good ball handers, well coached,” Falatea said. “We just have to be well disciplined.”
Senior Kaulana Makaula had another stellar game protecting the rim with two blocks.
“All we care about,” he said, “is playing basketball on Saturday night.”
That would be the evening of the state championship game.
Kailua 68, Kalaheo 40
Everett Torres-Kahapea scored 22 points and Isiah Hopson added 19 with 14 rebounds and four blocked shots as the Surfriders had an easy time with the rival Mustangs.
Nainoa Peters added 12 points for OIA runner-up Kailua (19-12), which got scoring from a solid group of seven players.
Aaron Baker led Kalaheo (17-17), the fifth-place team from the OIA, with 17 points while Kanoa Smith was limited to seven points.
Kailua will face BIIF champion Waiakea on Thursday.
Iolani 72, Hilo 45
Frank Felix led the Raiders with 17 points as ‘Iolani went on the road to rout the Vikings.
Kawika Lee added 14 and Sam Wheeler scored 10 in the rout.
Rayson Padilla led BIIF runner-up Hilo (15-15) with 12 points on 14 shots.
ILH third-place finisher Iolani (21-11) moves on to meet OIA champion Moanalua on Na Menehune’s homecourt on Thursday.
Kapolei 49, Baldwin 41, OT
Ja’Shon Carter put the Hurricanes on his back for 24 points in 36 minutes and the Hurricanes beat the Bears on the road.
Carter forced overtime with a layup with one second left before hitting eight of nine foul shots in overtime to send the Bears fans home unhappy.
Nathaniel Whitehurst led Kapolei (18-8), the OIA third-place team, with 10 important rebounds in 27 minutes.
Holden Ioanis led MIL runner-up Baldwin (12-12) with 13 points and John Werner added 10.
The Hurricanes come home to play top seed Maryknoll on Thursday.