A year older, a year wiser.
No. 2-ranked Saint Louis made quick work of a dangerous Kaimuki squad, using a 20-0 first-half run for a 57-32 win on Saturday night at Clarence T.C. Ching Gymnasium. It is the Crusaders’ eighth win in a row since losing to University on Nov. 30 at the Surfrider Holiday Classic.
Junior Pupu Sepulona led the way with 16 points while classmate Shancin Revuelto splashed three treys and finished with 11 points. Sepulona and senior Jordan Posiulai contained the paint area against trenchmen, 6-5 Iosefa Letuli and 6-3 Harmon Sio.
Kaimuki (5-5) is also in the Classic and will play The Master’s Academy (Fla.) on Tuesday, 3 p.m. Senior Daysen Lupica scored 10 of his team-high 12 points in the second half for the Bulldogs. Jeremiah White was limited to seven points as officials permitted a good deal of physicality on the perimeter and in the key.
The Crusaders were one of the youngest teams in the state last year, coming off a state-championship season with All-State player of the year Aiva Arquette. The 2022-23 squad grew into an identity of its own, repeating as state champions with the new player of the year, Sepulona.
“I feel like we have the chemistry. We’ve been playing together since freshman year. We have the same team back from last year,” Sepulona said.
Saint Louis (9-1) will battle CIF powerhouse St. John Bosco on Monday, 7:30 p.m., at the ‘Iolani Prep Classic.
“Last year, the ‘Iolani Classic gave us so much confidence playing against the No. 1 team in the nation. Going into this game on Monday, we’re going there with intensity.”
The 6-foot-3, two-sport standout has plenty of support. While Keanu Meacham continues to progress and Stone Kanoa provides lockdown defense, Corey Bailey is providing a spark off the bench with his length, scoring and springy finishes at the rim.
“I feel like adding Caelen (Fernando) and Luke (Patton) from Damien, I feel like they’re a big help. They’ve been practicing with us since last year. Too bad they had to sit out,” Revuelto said, referring to the mandatory rule regarding transferring within the ILH.
Posiulai is integral in the paint, a smart, physical presence on both ends. Whether it’s contesting shots, scoring in traffic or making the extra pass, he is the perfect complement to Sepulona.
“We know each other a lot better. We know what our strengths are, what our weaknesses are. We improved,” Posiulai said.