Punahou got an early challenge from host Moanalua, but exploded in the second quarter to open a double-digit lead on day one of the Moanalua OIA-ILH Challenge.
Moanalua led 25-24 in the second quarter before Punahou’s depth and fullcourt pressure began to wear down the hustling Na Menehune. Moanalua forward Saige Pulu picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter and sat down, accelerating Punahou’s run. It was a barrage of open threes off the fastbreak.
Cole Arceneaux scored a modest nine points, but he gets a gold star in my book for being Mr. Transition. Punahou has a lot of moving parts when it comes to its fastbreak, and Arceneaux is the motor. I don’t think there are more than a handful of players statewide who can rev it from one end of the floor to the other as quickly and efficiently as the sophomore does.
Zane Chong, who rained in three treys, finished with a team-high 14 points for the Buffanblu. Cole Mausolf also hit three triples and finished with nine point. Chong and Mausolf scored all their points in the first half.
Jack-Eli Tufono powered his way to 14 points to share team-high honors. Jared Lum added 13 points in a solid, versatile performance. He was a wing in the first half and ran the point for a good chunk of the second half.
James Wilkins, Moanalua’s 6-foot-2 G/F, scored 11 points. R.J. Dominguez also scored 11. Caleb Casinas added 10. Pulu finished with 16 points despite sitting with foul trouble.
Moanalua shot 16-for-38 from the free-throw line. Shooting less than 50 percent has more or less been the barrier mark for OIA basketball teams since the 1970s. It’s not much of a barrier, right? But during that decade and the 1980s, most teams shot between 50 and 60 percent from the foul line. OIA teams, more accurately. In other words, a little improvement to 60 or 65 percent can make the difference in a lot of close games.
My guess is that if Moanalua can shoot 55 percent from the line this season, that’s an additional 4-5 points per game — provided Na Menehune continue to get 38 free-throw attempts per game. It’s not out of the realm. They run the floor often and there will be OIA teams willing to get into a track meet with them.
If Moanalua shoots 60 percent from the foul line, that’s nearly 23 points on free throws, or seven more points. That’s the difference between winning and losing a whole lot of close games between now and the end of the postseason. If there ever was a skill that can be improved on drastically during a season, this is certainly one of them.