We’re 5 minutes away from tip-off for ILH runner-up Punahou and the OIA’s fifth-place team, Kahuku. The Red Raiders have been large and in charge lately now that everybody’s back from football visits, now that there’s no drama off the court regarding coaching and who gets to shoot and all that mess.
Nope. It’s just basketball now and that’s a beautiful thing. Kahuku may be feeling great about this late-season run. So is Punahou. After being No. 1 in preseason with a string of rollicking, fast breaking wins, they went 1-4 in ILH play and their overall youth really showed. But as they regrouped and senior post ‘Akahi Troske returned to solidify the front court, Punahou went on a tear and reached the ILH playoff tourney final, knocking out Kamehameha for a state berth. Then came a loss to ‘Iolani in the league title game.
So both teams have won their first two tourney games at states. Kahuku won by wide margins over Konawaena and then OIA champion Kalaheo. Punahou eked out close wins over Leilehua and Lahainaluna. Punahou’s a little deeper, using all 15 players, but Brandyn Akana has a deep bench, too, and he has two sharpshooters in Keanu and Kawika Akina. They have athletes everywhere, including the Spencer brothers, seniors Kenny and Kieran, and perhaps the best 1-2 post combo around in Bradlee Anae and Hirkley Latu. It’s a beast of a team and they’re peaking at the perfect time.
Kahuku in halfcourt man. Punahou in fullcourt man. Two turnovers by Kahuku and Punahou leads 6-4 early.
Chris Kobayashi with a 15-foot bank and it’s 8-4. Troske blocks a turnaround J by Anae, but later Anae powers in for a layup. Jared Lum has a matchup challenge with Anae, but on the offensive end, he lines up from the corner and splashes a 3. Then Kahuku races upcourt and Keanu Akina hits a corner 3. After Kahuku scores in the post again, the Red Raiders lead 11-10. TV time out with 2:09 left.
Good battle. The quarter ends with Punahou ahead 15-13. Hunter Lee with back-to-back steals for layups, including and-1 on the first bucket. Kahuku with four turnovers against Punahou’s mix of fullcourt man and 2-2-1 zone press.
Troske, who had 18 and 20 against Kalaheo, has two points and one rebound so far.
Kahuku with two more turnovers in the first minute of the second quarter. That turns into just one bucket for Punahou, and when Kahuku gets past the pressure, they’re pounding the ball inside. Anae misses two foul shots, but Kieran Spencer grabs an offensive board and drives. He’s fouled, hits one of two and the lead is down to 17-14.
Lee back in and he swipes another pass for a layup. That’s four steals already for Lee. Punahou up 21-16.
TV time out, 3:55. Punahou leads Kahuku 21-17.
Kahuku switched to a matchup zone in the final 2 minutes. Maybe 1-3-1, hard to tell in just two possessions, but Anae was locked there at the foul line. Akana will mix things up but I don’t think they’ll stay in that for long, not with the corners exposed like that. Punahou leads at the half, 23-17.
Red Raiders have a 17-13 edge on the boards, but have committed nine turnovers. Seven of those have been steals by Punahou, mostly on telegraphed passes on the perimeter. Latu has nine points despite being double- and triple-teamed on the low post.
Punahou is 0-for-6 from the arc. Lee is their leading scorer so far with seven points.
Kahuku opens in that same 1-3-1 look defensively, but Kobayashi makes it rain with an NBA-range 3 for a 26-17 lead. Anae having trouble getting his shot over Troske; every shot is short.
Lum cuts and scores on a pass from Kaulana Makaula. Fouled, hits the FT and it’s 29-19.
Then Keanu Akana slips near midcourt, generally in the area that I saw two players slip earlier today. Makaula snatches the loose ball, feeds Arceneaux in the corner, he drives to the paint and kicks to Kobayashi. Splash. 32-19, time out, Kahuku, 5:29.
Kahuku gains some momentum with a 3-pointer from Kieran Spencer and a follow shot by Anae, but another turnover (travel) against Punahou’s press stops it. TV time out, 3:52, Punahou up 32-24. That’s 12 turnovers by the Red Raiders.
Kahuku is in a 1-2-2 zone out of the time out with Latu at midcourt.
Cole Mausolf with the slick move, passing across court, cutting the middle. Gets the ball back, draws and dishes to Zayne Chong in the right corner, splash. 35-24.
Now Kahuku’s getting defensive. Latu with two steals at midcourt, scores twice and it’s 35-28. Time out by Punahou.
Anae works the post, bucket and the foul. Hits the FT, 35-31. Troske checks in. Anae with Troske, no double, spins in the lane, layup. 35-33.
Arceneaux dishes to Chong in the left corner, all net with :02 left. Punahou takes a 38-33 lead into the final quarter.
Latu catches the ball too low on the post and shoots off the side of the board. He’s struggled against the doubles and triples tonight, and now Troske blocks his shot into the nearby photographers’ row. He goes at it again and draws contact from Lum. Two shots. He hits the first, misses the second. That’s 14 points for Latu. I’m surprised Kahuku hasn’t sent cutters into the lane on those low-post doubles.
Punahou works the high low. Lum to Troske, fouled. Misses the first and second. Punahou springs a halfcourt trap off the miss and Kahuku travels.
Punahou up 38-36, 5:16 left. Kahuku in halfcourt man the past couple of minutes. Arceneaux passes from the top to Kobayashi in the corner, splash. That’s a 3, 41-36, 4:40.
TV time out, 3:50. Punahou 41-36.
Latu back in and the 1-2-2 is on. Kobayashi drives and scores, 43-36.
Latu hits two FTs, deflects a Troske pass, turnover. Kahuku ball. Keanu Akina drives on Arceneaux, air ball.
Arceneaux fouled, 1-and-1 with 2:05 left. Misses. Time out, Kahuku, 1:57.
Anae’s follow cuts it to 43-40. 1:16.
Arceneaux 1-and-1, misses. Troske fouls Anae on the rebound. Anae to the line, 1:03. First shot good, 43-41. Second shot short. Chong rebounds, fouled.
Chong at the line, :59.6. First shot long, Troske rebounds, time out Punahou, :47. Punahou has missed three 1-and-1s in a row.
Kobayashi loses the ball and kicks it. Kahuku ball, :43.7. Time out, Kahuku.
Kahuku goes to Anae on a cut from the elbow to the post, he banks in an 8-footer, bucket. Tied at 43 with 25 seconds left.
Punahou goes upcourt, looks, looks. Matsuda calls time out with :06.3 left. Each team still has two more time outs.
Punahou sets up a box on the key, but Arceneaux can’t get it in. Time out, Matsuda, and Kahuku fans boo. They wanted a 5-sec count.
Anae steals the inbounds pass, time out Kahuku, :04.7.
Kieran Spencer’s inbounds pass to Akina misses the target, stolen by Troske, who dribbles past midcourt and throws it away trying to get it to Lum. Time runs out.
Lum scores off the tip, and Chong hits a 3 to give Punahou a 48-43 lead.
ANae with a follow shot. Chong hits two FTs, Punahou 50-45, 1:12.
Anae to the line, hits both, 50-47, :44.6.
Troske fouled, at the line, :28.3. First shot short. Second shot misses.
Keanu Akina swishes a 23-footer from the left wing to tie it with 22 seconds left. Punahou plays on, Arceneaux drives, shot altered by Anae, Troske follows with the putback for a 52-50 lead.
Kahuku inbounds, Latu chases by a horde of Buffanblu downcourt. Time expires before he can get a shot off.
FINAL: Punahou 52, Kahuku 50.