For three quarters, the Kapolei Hurricanes did not allow a single offensive rebound by the Campbell Sabers.
In a 61-51 win tonight to seal first place in the OIA West, No. 6 Kapolei showed what can happen with a healthy lineup.
The flip side of that is this: in a showdown for first place, the Sabers actually hustled and got their hands on a bunch of potential offensive rebounds. They just didn’t secure the ball until the fourth quarter, when they grabbed three on the offensive glass. In a battle between two tall, long and athletic teams, every extra possession mattered.
Kapolei had a 30-22 edge on the boards, including 10 offensive rebounds. The math favored the visiting Hurricanes, who got plenty of active hands and feet from 6-foot-4 senior Zoar Nedd (19 points) and 6-4 Marquis Montgomery. Nedd was utilized at the top of Kapolei’s 1-3-1 zone late in the game to help snuff out some hot second-half 3-point shooting by the Sabers. He also covered wings and point guards in Kapolei’s man coverage.
The one thing Kapolei didn’t do was go to a 3-2 matchup zone, which they unveiled earlier in the season with Nedd at the top.
“It’s not just Zoar. We’ve got to get everybody involved defensively,” Kapolei coach Gary Ellison said. “We know Campbell has very good shooters. This was the most we’ve switched around defenses.”
The quickness and length of 6-4 Kaimana Rodrigues is another ace in Ellison’s sleeve. Then he brings in 6-8 giant Julius Buelow and 6-3 Kanoa Manalo off the bench to seal off the rim area. With Isiah Higa and Ja’Shon Carter (11 points, four boards, six assists) directing the offense at various speeds, Ellison also employed Jalen Miller and Nathaniel Whitehurst to provide length and ballhandling.
Is this the best personnel Kapolei has ever had defensively? That’s a tough call now that the Hurricanes have an opening-round bye in the OIA playoffs. Beyond that, the ‘Canes could be en route to big battles with the best teams from the ILH, MIL and BIIF. In nonconference play, a healthy Kapolei team upset No. 2 Kamehameha 57-51 during the ‘Iolani Classic, then lost to current No. 1 Maryknoll 46-45.
Offensively, Kapolei shot a hot 61 percent from the field (22-for-36). The ‘Canes took just six 3-point shots all night, including none in the fourth quarter as they wisely controlled the tempo and withstood a furious comeback attempt by Campbell.
Ellison knows precisely what he wants his team to work on at practice on Friday.
“I’m still not happy with our blocking out,” he said.