Last summer, there was a bit of a tug-of-war over Kordel Ng.
Coming off an All-State Fab 15 season, the sky walking junior was in search of a new school after St. Francis closed its doors. First, word was he was accepted at Punahou. Then he was accepted at Kamehameha. In the end, his first choice was the campus at Kapalama Heights, where best friend Christmas Togiai was also heading into senior season.
Their combined laser focus as a team has built the Kamehameha Warriors into the No. 1 squad in the Star-Advertiser Boys Basketball Top 10. On Friday night, with their teammates shooting ice-cold from the field — a combined 0-for-16 — Ng and Togiai met the challenge against No. 3 Punahou. Togiai powered his way to 23 points and 16 rebounds, and Ng had 20 points, three boards, three assists and two blocks as Kamehameha pulled out a 49-43 win before a loud crowd of 1,000 at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.
It was clutch, an 8-0 run to break a see-saw game for a 48-41 lead down the stretch. It was also an unusual recipe for the Warriors, who improved to 7-0 in league play (20-5 overall). Togiai and Ng combined for all 16 of their team’s field goals. The rest of the Warriors scored six of their 49 points, all at the foul line. Defensively, they limited Punahou to 4-for-16 shooting at the 3-point arc.
It was fitting, perhaps, that Kamehameha’s third win over Punahou (14-10, 4-4) in as many tries this season came on Ng’s birthday. Togiai was so pumped about his pal joining him at Kamehameha, he called it quits on the gridiron to focus on his favorite sport.
“I’m happy he’s on the court with me. His presence gives me extra confidence. I have someone to fall back on. If I’m tired, I know he can pick it up and carry us with his scoring,” said Togiai, a 6-foot-1 all-position threat who shot 9-for-16 from the field and 4-for-6 at the foul line.
The win was the best possible birthday present for Ng. A year ago, he and brother Kameron, now with Hawaii, teamed up to help St. Francis pull out an 84-81 overtime win over Punahou.
“Kameron made the game-winner, so I think that one was a little bit better,” Ng said.
Kamehameha’s trek doesn’t get any easier in the brutally tough ILH. The Warriors visit No. 2 Maryknoll on Saturday.
“We’ll focus on our next game tomorrow,” Ng said, “It’s going to be a tough game.
At Hemmeter Fieldhouse
Kamehameha (20-5, 7-0) 11 12 11 15 — 49
Punahou (14-10, 4-4) 8 16 8 11 — 43
KS: Kordel Ng 20, Preston Ponteras 1, Braden Defries 3, Paliku Kamaka 0, Christmas Togiai 23, EJ Kapihe 0, Xavier Lever 0, Bailey Lee 2.
PUN: Yoshi Kobayashi 10, Peyton Macapulay 6, Kanoa Kalahiki 0, Kai Nafarrete 0, Noah Kameehonua 2, Grant Nakanishi 0, Ryder Hsiung 9, Alexandru Iosivas 0, Jordan Deshawn Hepting 16.
3-point goals: Kamehameha 2 (Ng, Togiai), Punahou 4 (Kobayashi 2, Hsiung 2).