For the late-night owls and insomniacs in the basketball universe, Friday night’s battle between No. 2 Punahou and No. 7 Kalaheo was an instant classic.
Punahou finally had a full roster. No football visitation to the continent for hoops center/football lineman Duke Clemens, possessor of the Hakeem Olajuwon/Kevin McHale skill set. A healthy pair of elbows for swingman/linebacker Maninoa Tufono. Kaulana Makaula, a standout cornerback and five-position defensive whiz, also healthy (elbow).
But the defending ILH and state champions got the scare of the night from Kalaheo, which splashed 13 3-pointers. Punahou escaped with an 81-79 win in the final matchup of the night at the OIA-ILH Challenge. Punahou coach Darren Matsuda said the Mustangs were simply unconscious, or words to that effect.
“The shots were mostly contested and deep. They shot 40 percent from the arc,” he said. “They’re dangerous.”
Just one day earlier, Kalaheo missed its first 13 tries from deep and finished 3-for-24 in a 56-52 loss to No. 4 ‘Iolani. Friday proved, perhaps, that Kalaheo and a lot of teams with good shooters will eventually revert to the mean.
Punahou likes spacing the court and launching open 3s, too. The Buffanblu shot 8-for-21 from the arc (38 percent) and 50 percent overall from the field. Makaula played all 32 minutes and led the Buffanblu with 20 points and added four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Clemens played 29 minutes and shot 9-for-14 from the floor for 19 points. He added seven boards, but his hidden value is on defense, where he had a team-high four deflections.
Jakob Kimura added 12 points and six caroms. Tamatoa Falatea chipped in nine points, shooting 3-for-7 from deep.
For Kalaheo, two close losses to the ILH’s top two teams in Division I don’t matter on paper. If anything, their ability to compete despite injuries says a lot about the future. Gritty sophomore Luke Pardini is playing at about “50 percent,” coach Rob Pardini said, with a hip injury.
“We did knock down the open looks and finished two-on-ones better. We looked more like ourselves this time. Unfortunately, we are not 100 percent with Luke playing through injury and missing a couple of bench players. We had our chances,” Coach Pardini said.
Friday’s games were all competitive as the OIA won two of the four matchups with the ILH, unlike Thursday, when the ILH won three of four. On Friday, No. 4 ‘Iolani hung on for a 68-62 win over Kailua, Kapolei stunned No. 5 St. Francis 42-41 and No. 10 Moanalua pulled away in the second half for a 71-48 win over No. 8 Kamehameha.
The recovery time from last night is limited. Punahou has a 2 p.m. matchup with Kailua today in a battle of wills between two talented, but weary squads.
“We just have to be ready and focused to get better every day,” Matsuda said. “Kailua is a tough team and played ‘Iolani really tough, and beat Kamehameha. So we’ve got to be up for the challenge and bring the energy despite a short turnaround.”