Never mind win-loss records and rankings, even the standings.
Punahou-‘Iolani lived up to the rivalry heat again on Thursday night, and the visiting Buffanblu welcomed back a teammate who might just be their most valuable player.
Kaulana Makaula returned from a football visit to Southern California — when Punahou lost games to St. Francis and Maryknoll — to score 11 points while providing his arsenal of defensive skills as the Buffanblu outlasted the host Raiders 50-44.
“We haven’t lost more than two in a row in two or three years so we came out hungry and energized,” Buffanblu coach Darren Matsuda said.
The win pushed No. 3 Punahou to 8-3 in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. That grip on second place could prove crucial in the playoffs. Three state-tournament berths are allotted to the ILH, and first-place Maryknoll locked up one of them with a 58-33 win over Mid-Pacific on Thursday.
Jakob Kimura powered his way to the bucket consistently and finished with 12 points to lead Punahou scorers. The Buffanblu did it the old-fashioned away, shooting 53 percent from the field (19-for-36) without making a single 3-point try. That helped offset 7-for-16 shooting at the free-throw line.
Defensively, with Kimura and Makaula as their jumping jacks and Duke Clemens manning the paint, they had plenty of coverage near and far. Punahou limited ‘Iolani to 5-for-24 shooting from 3-point range.
Makaula returned from Southern California with a renewed perspective after committing to the Trojans. But he was a little rusty on the hardwood and dived back into practice.
“We went into the lab, got some work in, got some shots up,” said Makaula, who also had two assists in the paint to Clemens. “I’m just glad I always have a big man who’s always ready for a pass.”
At ‘Iolani, it was an electric atmosphere with a strong student turnout for each team.
“At the beginning I had a little bit of jitters. It’s always exciting to come to ‘Iolani on their senior night,” Makaula said.
Punahou also got solid guard play from freshman point guard Peyton Macapulay in the final quarter.
“Peyton’s a great player, and as good as he is as a freshman, he’s only going to get better,” Matsuda said. “That’s definitely one of his best fourth quarters. He made some good decisions today and controlled the game. They’re a tough defensive team.”
The Buffanblu forced ‘Iolani into 14 turnovers, including 10 in the first half.
“We have to get to that level and maintain that level. That’s a championship level we need to be at (first half),” Matsuda said.
They also had 14 giveaways and didn’t quite get the kind of tempo that gives them more scoring opportunities.
“We’ve got to get better at what we do. We turned the ball over a little bit. Hopefully, we get better at that,” Matsuda said. “ ‘Iolani is very good defensive team. Hats off to them.”
For ‘Iolani, the loss was bittersweet on a special night.
“We love and appreciate the support,” said Kawika Lee, one of four Raider seniors. “Every night, every team in this league can win.”
Punahou (23-4, 8-3) 11 11 14 14 — 50
‘Iolani (19-8, 7-4) 12 6 10 16 — 44
Punahou: Yoshi Kobayashi 0, Jakob Kimura 12, Peyton Macapulay 5, Maninoa Tufono 2, Tamatoa Falatea 7, Noah Kameehonua 2, Kai Nafarette 2, Kaulana Makaula 11, Ryder Hsiung 2, Duke Clemens 8.
‘Iolani: Noah Bumanglag 7, Frank Felix 15, Sam Wheeler 6, Wesley Yamada 6, Kawika Lee 10, Andrew Dawson 0, Shayden Molina 0, Kilo Scanlan 0
3-point goals: Punahou none, ‘Iolani 5 (Felix 2, Yamada 2, Bumanglag).