Kahuku has all the parts and now that the OIA playoffs are a week away, the Red Raiders’ job is to do the finishing work on their boys basketball product.
They’ve got board bangers (6-foot-7 Denhym Brooke, 6-6 Hyrum Harris, 6-foot-4 Bradlee Anae and the scrappy 6-foot Kesi Ah-Hoy).
They’ve got smooth guards (Tamamoko Green, Samuta Avea, Keanu Akina, Alohi Gilman).
They’ve got shooters and creative drivers (Harris, Akina, Tamanui Nagy, Brooke, Anae).
They’re deep and they come at you in waves. They can also strike quick, like when Kaiser tried to mount a fourth-quarter comeback last Wednesday, and just when it seemed like the Cougars would quickly close the gap, there was the 5-10 Akina firing up two 3-pointers that iced the opponents.
So, what could stop Kahuku (10-1) from taking the OIA title, except perhaps Alika Smith’s finesseful, powerful and undefeated Kalaheo Mustangs (11-0)?
Well, Kahuku — at least in the win against Kaiser — may at times get too aggressive for its own good. Several times after making hard fouls, a few players appeared to want to complain about the call more than take it for what it was — a foul — and move on.
In other words, emotions getting out of hand could end being detrimental.
“(Against Kaiser), we were a little over-aggressive,” Kahuku coach Alan Akina said.
The Red Raiders, who have gotten a huge boost from three New Zealand transfers (Harris, Brooke and Green) haven’t played their best basketball yet, according to Akina.
Gilman is back with the team after going through the football recruiting process and signing last week with Navy as a defensive back, but Kahuku has been without Hirkley Latu, who is out for the season with a torn shoulder. Akina said Latu was Kahuku’s top returning player from a year ago.
Akina knows an OIA title run will be a tough task, though.
“There were no easy games in the East, where every team is good,” he said. “We haven’t peaked yet and we’re hoping to peak at the right time. We have a lot of room for improvement.
“Our execution of the offense could be better and I think it will get better when they learn the plays. They’re still getting to know the plays. The defense is coming around. We’ve had some really great practices, defensively.”
Defensively against the Cougars, Kahuku used the 2-3 and box-and-one zone defenses and it worked well against Kaiser 6-foot-5 forward Chance Kalaugher (who still ended up with 13 points) and it forced the Cougars to throw it up from the outside.
“They (the Red Raiders) have size and athleticism,” Kaiser coach Branden Kawazoe said. “Our game plan was to not let them shoot, and then they bring No. 22 (Nagy) in off the bench and he really hurt us.”
Nagy made five jumpers for his 10 points in the second half.
“He played unbelievably,” Akina said of Nagy. “I don’t think he missed a shot.”
The Red Raiders also made five 3-pointers against Kaiser (four by Keanu Akina), and the coach is hoping they can maintain that inside-outside balance in the postseason.
“With good outside shooting, opponents won’t be able to cheat inside on us,” he said.