Kailua center Isaiah Hopson admittedly struggled during a four-game losing streak that left the Surfriders fifth in the OIA East standings entering the league playoffs.
With the season on the line, the 6-foot-6 junior stepped up and stood tall indeed in Kailua’s 69-51 win over Aiea in Thursday’s opening-round elimination game in the OIA Division I boys basketball playoffs.
“Tonight I wanted to redeem myself to my coach and prove that I can do better,” Hopson said after his 22-point performance at the Surfriders’ gym.
Hopson controlled the paint to complement guard Everett Torres-Kahapea’s playmaking ability and the Surfriders pulled away from Na Alii after seeing a 13-point lead cut to three late in the third quarter.
Hopson sparked Kailua early with a 3-pointer, thrilled the crowd with a breakaway dunk in the third quarter and his work on the boards over the smaller Na Alii helped the Surfriders pull away in the fourth quarter. Torres-Kahapea scored 10 of his game-high 23 points in the final period, including a 3-pointer in a decisive 8-0 run.
“Isaiah, we’ve been working with him all year in the post, it came together tonight,” Kailua coach Wally Marciel said. “He caught it high, put it up high. We’ve been waiting for that for a while out of him.
“You’re going to get points out of Everett, leadership on the court. And we had some other guys step up tonight. Kaniala Williams hit a couple big shots when it got close. So we need other guys hitting some shots other than Everett.”
With Kailua clinging to a 42-39 lead early in the fourth quarter, Williams’ hit a 3-pointer and jumper in the lane to spark the decisive run. The Surfriders outscored Aiea 29-16 in the fourth quarter and advanced to face OIA West top seed Kapolei in a quarterfinal game on Friday.
Kailua picked up a preseason win over the Hurricanes, but Kapolei went on to sweep through the regular season at 10-0 to earn a first-round bye.
“They score as a group,” Marciel said. “They have (Zoar) Nedd (the Hurricanes’ top scorer) but they play well as a team and we have to play well as a team.”
Kailua got out to a 5-1 start to the regular season but lost four straight entering the playoffs. They earned two more shots at qualifying for the Division I state tournament with Thursday’s win.
“Really tonight was the first night we had our whole team,” Marciel said. “We haven’t had our whole team all year, between sprained ankles, football games they were playing in. Tonight we had our full team.”
The OIA East swept through the opening round with wins from Kailua, Moanalua, McKinley and Kaiser.
Friday’s quarterfinal winners secure spots in the Division I state tournament. The losers fall into the fifth-place bracket and can still play their way into states with a win on Monday.
OIA PlayoffsUpdated: Feb. 5
|2/1||Mililani (W4)||Moanalua (E5)||Moan, 60-56|
|2/1||McKinley* (E3)||Radford (W6)||McK, 61-33|
|2/1||Campbell (W3)||Kaiser (E6)||Kais, 40-35|
|2/1||Kailua (E4)||Aiea (W5)||Kail, 69-51|
|2/2||Kahuku (E1)||Moanalua||Kah, 73-61|
|2/2||Leilehua** (W2)||McKinley||McK, 36-31|
|2/2||Kalaheo (E2)||Kaiser||Kalh, 49-46|
|2/2||Kapolei (W1)||Kailua||Kapo, 63-38|
|Consolation semifinals—At Higher Seed|
|Semifinals — At McKinley|
|Fifth place—At Higher Seed|
|Third place—At Higher Seed|
|2/7||McKInley||G12 loserJapolei||6 p.m.|
|Championship — At McKinley|
|2/1||Waipahu (W2)||Kaimuki (E3)||Kaim, 64-59|
|2/1||Roosevelt (E2)||Nanakuli (W3)||Roos, 47-43|
|2/3||Kalani (E1)||Kaimuki||Kaln, 50-42|
|2/3||Pearl City (W1)||Roosevelt||Roos, 60-50|
|Championship— At McKinley|
|* — @ Roosevelt|
|** — @ Waialua|