For one half, the Kailua Surfriders looked like everything Punahou coach Darren Matsuda had concerns about.
Second-ranked Punahou (8-1 overall) didn’t let up, using constant pressure over 94 feet of hardwood to overwhelm Kailua 80-55 on the final day of the OIA-ILH Challenge at Moanalua High School. The Buffanblu completed the tourney 3-0, defeating Kapolei (71-41) on Thursday and No. 7 Kalaheo (81-79) on Friday.
It was a much different story in the first half, when the Surfriders led most of the way before the Buffanblu surged ahead 41-40 by intermission. Kailua (4-5 overall) had 16 points from Everett Torres-Kahapea by the break, and 6-foot-6 swingman Isaiah Hopson had eight points despite foul trouble.
Punahou buckled down defensively on Torres-Kahapea, who finished with 21 points. Hopson, meanwhile, never got untracked after two stellar performances earlier in the tourney. He went scoreless in the second half until hitting a bucket with about 3 minutes left in the game.
Tamatoa Falatea paced Punahou with 19 points, including three treys in the second quarter to spark Punahou’s rally. Guard Yoshi Kobayashi added 14 points, Kaulana Makaula tallied 10 points and center Duke Clemens chipped in with eight points.
Falatea and Makaula, always working hard on defense, each was whistled for a technical foul, as was Torres-Kahapea.
“Tell them it’s the passion,” Falatea said.
Clemens smiles when he talks about his teammate.
“Tamatoa brings the energy. It’s a mental thing,” he said.
Punahou looks like a different team since losing to Damien nearly two weeks ago.
“I think we’re just getting better every week,” Clemens said. “A big one for us is communication and scramble defense.”
Clemens missed a bit of time recently to play in an all-star game. In January, he has the Hall of Fame game and the Poly Bowl. He has already committed to play football at UCLA.
No. 7 Kalaheo 61, No. 5 St. Francis 54
The Mustangs pulled away in the second half for a win over the Saints, who have been without the state’s scorer, Kameron Ng, since his ankle injury two weeks ago. Neither team shot well until the second quarter, when Kalaheo’s Ryan Pardini and St. Francis’ Kordel Ng began to heat up.
Ng scored 15 of his game-high 24 by halftime. Pardini stroked a 29-footer from the sideline at the buzzer to tie the at 28. Kalaheo eventually opened the lead to nine in the final 4 minutes. The Saints went to fullcourt pressure and cut the lead to three, but came up empty on their two key possessions in the final 2 minutes. Aaron Baker hit two clutch foul shots for Kalaheo (5-3) to stretch the lead to five.
Pardini finished with 20 points, including a 30-footer from the ‘h’ on the Na Menehune logo in front of the Mustangs’ bench in the third quarter. Robert Thompson sparked the late push and finished with 13 points, and Ryan Owens tallied 12.
Titus Liu chipped in with 11 points for the Saints, who are now 5-3 overall in nonconference play.
No. 8 Kamehameha 63, Kapolei 29
It’s a pleasant birthday for Christmas Togiai, who led the Warriors with 13 points. This was a wide margin from the first quarter on. Sophomore Paliku Kamaka finished with 11 points and senior center Lokahi Pauole added 10.
Mateo Veazie led Kapolei with six points. Nate Whitehurst, the Hurricanes’ leading scorer, sat out after an injury in the first half.