More from last night’s semifinal battle between Kamehameha and Punahou at the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Boys Basketball Division I State Championships.
Kamehameha outlasted Punahou 47-43 at Stan Sheriff Center to advance to the final.
• The bigger Buffanblu controlled the first quarter, going to DeForest Buckner on the low post for six early points. Punahou led 12-5 early in the second quarter when Kamehameha seized momentum.
• The Warriors used their motion offense, a three-guard weave between the wing areas, to stretch out possessions and wear down Punahou’s man-to-man coverage. Frank Ho attacked the defense and scored 10 quick points, connecting on a pair of 3-point bombs, as the Warriors tied the game at 18.
• Punahou reserve center Kaiwi Crabb responded with a low-post bucket, but Charlton Tang scored the next three points to give Kamehameha the lead, 21-20.
• The Warriors closed out the first half with six unanswered points, including four by Micah Christenson. They led 26-20 at the break and never relinquished the lead.
• Punahou’s twin towers, Buckner and Malik Johnson, were scoreless in the second quarter as Kamehameha’s 2-3 matchup zone blanketed them.
• Punahou went to the low post with more success in the third quarter, scoring all 14 of its points in the paint. Kamehameha, however, got a three-point play at the basket by Christenson and Dyrbe Enos nailed a corner trey. After Christenson followed up a miss at the buzzer — though the red light indicating the end of the quarter flashed — Kamehameha had a 40-34 lead entering the fourth.
• Punahou continued to go inside, pulling within 40-38 on a turnaround jump hook by Buckner, but Branden Orpillia’s 22-footer from the right wing extended Kamehameha’s lead to five.
It was a heartbreaking loss for Punahou, which had beaten Kamehameha three weeks ago to claim second place in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu — earning an automatic state berth.
The foul and free-throw discrepancies favored Kamehameha, but the Warriors’ determination and willingness to drive into the paint against the bigger Buffanblu was a huge factor. Most of those drives were by Kamehameha’s guards, who are all 5-9 and shorter.
“They got so much heart and confidence,” said Christenson, who posted low a few times in the second half — a change from his usual spot-up habit. “They’re not afraid of anybody and they do anything to get to the free-throw line. It was very strategic by our players. They played very smart.”
Paul Honda, Star-Bulletin