Kahuku captures 1st boys hoops state title

The Kahuku Red Raiders celebrated their 70-55 win over Punahou. Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser
The Kahuku Red Raiders celebrated their 70-55 win over Punahou. Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser

The fourth time is the charm for Kahuku boys basketball.

After three previous trips to the state championship game in Division I and its predecessor, top-seeded Kahuku finally broke through on Saturday with a 70-55 win over second-seeded Punahou.

In a basketball symphony of roles and explosions, the Red Raiders got perhaps their most balanced and consistent performance in a year of near perfection. Jessiya Villa led all scorers with 23 points and added seven rebounds and three assists. He hit seven of his eight free throws in the final 1:36 to put the game on ice. Samuta Avea was a force in every phase with 20 points, including 6-for-6 shooting at the foul line, 11 rebounds and four blocks. Dan Fotu had 14 points and eight boards with three assists, attacking from the block all night. The title is the first for Brandyn Akana, who completed his second season as head coach.

More on Kahuku’s title-game victory and the road from preseason to the throne later on Hawaii Prep World.


  1. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate February 17, 2017 10:13 pm

    congrats kahuku basketball, villa poy

  2. The Watcher February 17, 2017 11:03 pm

    Congratulations to Kahuku! Also Punahou, please get rid of Matsuda. There is no coach in Hawaii who does less with more.

  3. Winnah February 17, 2017 11:06 pm

    Congrats Big Red!!! 2017 D1 Basketball Champs!!!

  4. AOK February 17, 2017 11:26 pm

    Shoutout to Red Raider Nation

    Greatest team of all time?

  5. mayday February 18, 2017 12:03 am

    recruiting wins championships…..kapolei football and kahuku basketball will suck next year……#mayday#

  6. thnk1st February 18, 2017 12:03 am

    awesome game. congrats to all of the players and coaches. well played game. Villa is the real deal. avea will only get better. hope fotu hangs around and develops.

  7. yoda said so February 18, 2017 12:27 am

    just like pro basketball. Stack your super teams to win the ‘chip. Easier accomplished when a HS team has recruited transfers from new zealand, virginia, and utah. let’s not even get to HC past history at that Manoa school either. Regardless, to the victor goes the spoils. better luck next time to all the local teams with homegrown talent.

    cuz Yoda said so. . .

  8. Mana Pua February 18, 2017 12:28 am

    @Mayday…..Every school public or private recruit players….Don’t be a sour patch because we all know last year Punahou LIED about the time out!!!!!!



  9. Unko Alvin February 18, 2017 1:01 am

    Got home tonight and told Tutu Kane Ale tonight about Kahuku basketball team winning the Division 1 State Championship and he said I already dreamt that?

  10. Kahuku11 February 18, 2017 2:19 am

    THEY ALL HAVE KAHUKU ROOTS. AVEA is a RR thru and thru. Josiah has always wanted to graduate from Kahuku. Fotu has heaps of family here and we took him in. ROOOOOTED FOREVER. #RRFL

  11. TooMeke February 18, 2017 4:29 am

    Are you ILH poor sports complaining about recruiting??



    Go Big Red!!

  12. Islandstyl February 18, 2017 5:18 am

    Congrats Kahuku and Saint Francis!

    @AOK, Greatest Team of all Time? Ummm, not even close.

  13. Northshore February 18, 2017 5:42 am

    IRT: yoda said so: Recruiting? Don’t even go there. These boys from New Zealand, Virginia and Utah weren’t recruited, they have roots in Laie. Avea is originally from Laie and returned to be a RRFL. Fotu and Villa has family ties in Laie. Kahuku has nothing to offer as far as what the ILH (private) has to offer. They came to Kahuku because they wanted to play for the Big Red. Stop the crying already. This is an example of recruiting in the OIA. When a school like Mililani was able to recruit a running back from Aiea and a quarterback from Kapolei and won the championship. When Punahou recruited Manti Teo and Roby Toma and won the championship. Talk about homegrown, Kahuku plays with homegrown talent every year in football even if St Louis and Punahou recruits some of their talented athletes. Kahuku will have athletes for the next 20 years and private schools are always trying to recruit (provide financial aid) to enhance their program. Look at Leilehua, Radford, Moanalua, Mililani and Kalaheo, they have talent from the military families that are not local talent and that’s just part of having talent from out of state and no one complains about that. If you really want to talk about recruiting, focus on the ILH schools because they have the resources to do that, Public schools like Kahuku have nothing to offer to the athlete but tradition and community support.

  14. Winnah February 18, 2017 6:27 am

    Wow look at all the haters lol…
    Kahuku D1 2017 Champs baby!!!

  15. Loca1boi February 18, 2017 6:59 am

    @Yoda we knew guys like this would come out after the game. Basically the only guy not born in Hawai’i was Fotu. With the exception of him, Kahuku’s top 8-man rotation are all HAWAI’I BORN. Funny how there’s no whining about Kalaheo’s, McKinley’s, Kapolei’s, Leilehua’s, etc. etc. out of state players. Let’s not get started on the ILH. For decades Punahou and ‘Iolani (look at last year’s Maryknoll team) been taking talent from other schools for athletics. Maryknoll had just. Let these guys cry pilau. They only hate Kahuku cuz Kahuku put a hurting on their team. Enemy of the state is not just a tagline, I guess.
    I’ve been watching Hawai’i basketball for 25+ years, to me, this is the single most talented team Hawai’i ever had. And we only saw 1 year of these boys. Imagine if we had 4. I’m saying it. This team would’ve found a way to beat any of the other greatest teams Hawai’i has produced. Look at their body of work from the ‘Iolani Classic to the championship.

  16. The Rim February 18, 2017 7:15 am

    Congratulations Kahuku! I’m with most of you here, quit complaining ILH, you have kids from across the state on all sports. Punahou coach made a statement that he didn’t care about the loss because they do it the right way? What right way you referring to? Sounds like sour grapes dude, take your defeat and move on…and ftr, I’m not from Oahu I’m just sick of the complaining coming from schools that have it all.

  17. The Watcher February 18, 2017 7:15 am

    I am sorry I have to disagree. Kahuku, while talented barely beat an Iolani team (not even Iolani’s top 10 team all time) in OT after Iolani played like 9 games in 14 days (or something like that).

    Derek Low’s teams were much better. Brandon Brooks’ teams were much better.

  18. Islandstyl February 18, 2017 7:35 am

    During the years of Derrick Low, those teams were way better than this Kahuku team. This statement is in reference to someone saying that this RR team is the greatest ever. There are other teams that are way better. Punahou ’99. Hilo ’90. Kalaheo early 90’s.

    Avea and Villa are good players but overrated and definitely not NCAA D1 talent. NCAA D2 for sure.

  19. PONO February 18, 2017 7:52 am

    The punahou coach sucks, he should be fired. Mediocrity at its best. Congrats to big red.

  20. The Watcher February 18, 2017 8:21 am

    @ Islandstyl, I think this years Iolani team really over-achieved. They got smoked by Kailua early. They barely beat Kapolei until they pulled away late. This would never happen to Iolani in the past. I think this Iolani team is about #15 – #20 ever at Iolani. And Kahuku barely beat them in OT.

    Now, there’s no shame in winning a state title, but let’s not get carried away. I don’t think this Kahuku team ranks top 15 all time in Hawaii and I am being generous.

    I believe there are many #2-#3 teams that would have beaten this Kahuku team. What do you think?

  21. Loca1boi February 18, 2017 8:22 am

    @Islandstyl Allow me to put your foot in your mouth…To me, the biggest test to see whether or not these boys could hang with top competition came in Dec. at the ‘Iolani Classic. Not only did Kahuku win 3/4 games against all out of state schools, they finished THIRD. VILLA goes on to be the tournament’s ppg leader over guys like PJ Washington. That makes Villa a 2x ‘Iolani Classic all tournament member. Not to mention, Villa’s junior year, he was the lone underclassmen to be named West Virginia All-tournament First team (in a higher rated bball division than HI). Avea won a 6A state championship with his Utah team last year and just won another tonight. Say what you want about those two, but what you’re not gonna call them is overrated. They proved themselves all season long and you guys still not giving credit. You’re just spewing verbal diarrhea at this point. And this is how the comments are AFTER they win the championship lol. Sheesh.

  22. Lia February 18, 2017 8:49 am

    Watched the game last night and was thoroughly impressed and entertained. The Kahuku team played fast, aggressive and inspired basketball. I look forward to watching Avea play for UH. Villa was fearless. Fotu will only get better, Ah Hoy and Sauvao played defense like it’s supposed to be played. The whole team did their jobs and earned this title. Hats off to Punahou but Kahuku owned the night.
    Most impressive of all, were the Kahuku fans. You’re support for this team blew me away. The haka at the end of the game gave me chills. I may not be from Kahuku but for one night – I was a fan.

  23. Islandstyl February 18, 2017 8:50 am

    @The Watcher. I couldn’t agree with you anymore.

    By the way, @watcher, is the word ‘overrated’ spelled as one word or two?

    Other than the Oak Hill and Findlay, every other team in the classic was subpar when you compare to past classic games.

    UH wasted a scholarship on Avea. He has one move to the basket. He cannot hit a consistent shot off the dribble. Sure he can jump but so will everyone at the college level, unlike the OIA. When he played against the mainland teams in the classic he was below average, at best, and these are the type of talent he will be competing against in college.

    I can debate basketball if you like. Lets not talk about diarrhea. That’s gross.

  24. Islandstyl February 18, 2017 8:54 am


    Wait a minute, did someone just sat Villa was the PPG leader at the classic over PJ WASHINGTON from FINDLAY??? So are you saying that Villa is as good or better than PJ WASHINGTON???


  25. Gen February 18, 2017 9:13 am

    Honestly, why can’t people just comment “Congratulations on the win!” and move on? Smh talking about “recruiting” (and as a family member of Hyrum Harris who, alongside two other young men from NZ who came to play for Kahuku in 2015, no, our school does not recruit) and “I don’t think this Kahuku team ranks top 15 all time in Hawaii and I am being generous.” Does any of it matter?? They just won the championship for goodness sake! Be happy for them and move on! Smh beside you people who just “compare” and complain, congratulations boys! What a game!

  26. Homegrown February 18, 2017 9:48 am

    Congratulations Kahuku. Their big 3 (Villa,Avea, Fotu) were awesome as usual but watching Ahoy and Sauvao’s effort in person last night was the best part of the game. They took pride in their role and hustled all night away from the ball making it a long night for Punahou’s ball handlers and shooters. Congratulations to both teams for an awesome season. Punahou looks like it’ll be loaded next season!

  27. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate February 18, 2017 11:19 am

    you guys are delusional, for the last 100yrs hawaii bball in general is crap. villa is the only d1 talent this year, avea, fotu and that 6’9″ iolani center are d2 level but will develop well at their d1 colleges.

    best bball players in hawaii history:
    1. derrick lowe
    2. alika smith,jessiya villa
    3. kalia mcgee, julian sensley
    4. everyone else is football players or wannabe gym rats

    fyi. ahoy couldnt guard anyone lastnight thats why kaniho subbed him out (good move coach akana) villa and avea were constantly switching on ahoys man and sauvao kept getting beat on the backdoors. no disrespect to ahoy and sauvao cause both came up big with baskets the past 2 games but bball speed is different from football speed and villa got the bball speed. punahou coach gameplanned well but akana countered better and had better talent.

    this kahuku team is top 2 in hawaii all time, which is not saying much, they did better then any hawaii team in an iolani classic even derrick lowes iolani team. in the iolani classic there is a shot clock thats why iolani sucks but give them a shot clock and they turn hawaii bball into a soccer match and walk away with multiple d1 titles but no college or nba talent to show for it. kahuku football ground n pound is boring too but atleast they produce nfl players

  28. Lana February 18, 2017 11:31 am

    Give it a rest and stop complaining. Every time kahuku wins some moron complains about them recruiting. ILH schools are the biggest fruits and when they lose to a public school they act like cry babies. Move on and just congratulate these boys they worked hard for it. This from a private school kid

  29. Joeseph Smith February 18, 2017 11:58 am

    St. Francis beat Kahuku. Kameron Ng is better than Villa.

    St. Francis is the overall champions of Hawaii basketball.

  30. RRFL80 February 18, 2017 12:24 pm

    Ask the OG’S. …Pisa Finai….Nuff said. ..

  31. The Watcher February 18, 2017 12:41 pm

    @Gen, I did congratulate them. But then people come on here saying they are the best of all time. If they didn’t make such asinine comments then you would get your wish of just congratulatory comments.

    @Islandstyl, I believe overrated is one word.

    Punahou’s 1996 team upset a USA Today top 25 team. “The other invited team with potential for national ranking is St. Joseph’s of Alameda, Calif. The Pilots came into the Iolani Classic ranked No. 16 last year but were upset by Punahou in the quarterfinals.”

    Punahou beat the #16 team in the nation. Kahuku beat average to above average mainland teams this year. But they didn’t beat anyone outstanding. And when they did play a ranked team (Findlay Prep) they lost 87-43. That’s not close.

    To say they are better than previous Hawaii teams who beat better competition is a little naive in my opinion.

    No one is doubting Kahuku is a solid team, definite top 20 team all time, but #1 ever?

  32. Islandstyl February 18, 2017 12:48 pm

    St. Francis beat Kahuku???

    So that would really make STF the best team in Hawaii basketball this year. And by some of the claims made by some Kahuku folks that this Kahuku team is the best ever, then STF is really the best team ever.

  33. The Watcher February 18, 2017 12:56 pm

    @islandstyl, don’t forget Kahuku’s BIG WIN over perennial powerhouse Anuenue. That negative the SF loss.

    For the record, Derek Low played for WSU and made the Pan Am Games team for the USA. Villa is good, but to compare him to DLow is blasphemous.

  34. Lowe's February 18, 2017 1:05 pm

    Lot of butthurt ILH folks in here (and I’m an ILH guy). Kahuku’s recruits were just better than Punahou’s recruits. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

  35. Lowe's February 18, 2017 1:30 pm

    Islandstyl: I believe Kahuku’s “Big 3” weren’t on the team yet when they lost to St. Francis. It would be like Pun FB team without North Shore and Polynesian recruits Manti, Robbie and Tui on our State Championship team. Players make a big difference.

  36. Lowe's February 18, 2017 1:35 pm

    Sorry, Cayman not Tui. That was a great team. Also had Hilliard and Makaula at WR. Nice “gets” that year!

  37. The Watcher February 18, 2017 1:45 pm

    No shame in that bro. Punahou Carnival funds those athletic (aka “Diversity”) scholies. Now only if we could find a coach to replace club coach Matsuda we’d be dealing.

  38. Education First February 18, 2017 2:23 pm

    When Kahuku played St. Francis, Kahuku already had Villa and Avea. Fotu wasn’t there yet.

  39. Winnah February 18, 2017 2:26 pm

    @ Watcher
    Give it some time you’ll get over it lol!!!
    Go Big Red!!! BTW we still get football season you have another chance to beat us if you make it that far lol!!!

  40. Islandstyl February 18, 2017 2:51 pm

    Howzit. Fotu wasn’t there yet but Avea and Villa was for the game with STF

  41. Redlentless Fan February 18, 2017 3:41 pm

    OIA and ILH teams all recruit. And the more competitive teams recruit the most. SHOCKER. Kahuku recruited just as hard as everyone else. Don’t say that all the new kids all have ties to Kahuku/Hawaii ‘cus that can be said of EVERYONE. Call it what it is. And just deal. It’s recruiting and most schools do it. So everyone can stop pointing fingers. Is this the greatest team of all-time? NOT EVEN CLOSE. Are they a damn good team, heck yah. Is Villa the best player to come out of Hawaii? NOPE. He’s not even close to how dominating Derrick Lowe was. And it’s no surprise the ILH is way more competitive than the OIA. There are no Anuenue schools in the ILH. Let’s see how much the Kahuku staff recruits now. They’re losing what 10 seniors? One thing if they have freshmen coming in. But if they once again come in with a bunch of stud seniors? Come on now! There is already a sit out a year transfer rule between the OIA and ILH schools. With all the kids coming in from the mainland and foreign countries we need to start implementing a sit out rule PERIOD. Cause obviously schools like Kahuku and Marylkoll (and other schools I’m sure) are abusing that loophole. But let the kids enjoy this victory. They busted okole for it. The kids did nothing wrong. They deserve this win. Congrats Kahuku!

  42. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate February 18, 2017 4:00 pm

    this kahuku team is top 2 in hawaii all time, which is not saying much, they did better then any hawaii team in an iolani classic even derrick lowes iolani team. in the iolani classic there is a shot clock thats why iolani sucks but give them a shot clock and they turn hawaii bball into a soccer match and walk away with multiple d1 titles but no college or nba talent to show for it. kahuku football ground n pound is boring too but atleast they produce nfl players

  43. Islandstyl February 18, 2017 4:18 pm

    Redlentless has the best post up to this point. Agreed 1000%.

    Puppy has no idea what he is talking about.

  44. Gen February 18, 2017 4:24 pm

    @TheWatcher But does it matter though?

  45. Gen February 18, 2017 4:27 pm

    @TheWatcher In the here and now, does it matter who’s the best of the best? Just saying. Disregard the asinine comments. They only bring negativity and deviate from something great that happened for these boys. That’s my peace 🙂

  46. Uncle Joe February 18, 2017 7:35 pm

    Regarding recruiting, most schools recruit kids for four years or at least one full year, not just for that specific season, i.e. 2 months.

  47. Breathe&Stop February 18, 2017 7:53 pm

    @islandstyl https://twitter.com/Brotherhood05/status/812046380495728641 <— please check the link for the graphic which clearly showed that Villa did lead the Classic in ppg.

  48. Breathe&Stop February 18, 2017 8:07 pm

    @Islandstyl…. Villa did lead the ‘Iolani Classic in ppg. They showed a graphic on the live cast of the final day which showed that.

    The “best team ever” debate is so subjective it’s not even worth it. HOWEVER, I feel you’re kidding yourself if you feel this Kahuku team wasn’t special. We don’t get this caliber of team in Hawai’i. People are on here acting like we get teams like this every year. No way. How often are teams running and gunning like that, throwing lobs for oops on the break/out of bounds plays, putback dunks, volleyball spike blocks, a pg with crazy speed and handles that broke full court presses single handedly, defensive hounds that went balls out, undefeated, etc.? Rarely, if ever at all. They’ve been without a doubt the most exciting team I can recall. Honda wrote an article earlier considering them the “Hungriest #1 team ever” and I would agree. Imagine if we saw more than 1 year of this team? IMO, they are top 3 at least.

  49. The Watcher February 18, 2017 8:25 pm

    @Breathe&Stop, while they didn’t win the state title, Moanalua with Marcus Monroe and Marcus Keene played faster and was more exciting in my opinion. However, they didn’t have the interior presence that Kahuku had which was their downfall.

    Keene was way better than anyone on Kahuku by far. Here is the proof:

    Keene is leading the NCAA D1 in scoring. He had 40 today so he probably is scoring more than 30 ppg again – http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/statistics

    Most 40 Point Game in a Season over the Past 10 Years (More than Steph Curry). He scored 40 today, so he actually has (6) 40-point games now – http://a1.espncdn.com/combiner/i?img=/photo/2017/0208/1140298_12041121.PNG

  50. thnk1st February 18, 2017 8:46 pm

    congrats to a great game. Pun needs a new coach. they must love mastuda up there on campus. he only won with those twin towers with buckner. Kahuku looked good. n. shore boys always looking physcially fit and stronger that any other team.

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