Post-game: Moanalua-Leilehua, boys hoops

It’s one thing to knock off the frontrunners of your division, as the Leilehua Mules have done lately.

It’s another to take the court, as they did at Moanalua last night, with a combination of height and athleticism in the front court, and good ballhandling in the backcourt. Leilehua is a team built to upset a season-long elite squad, which is what Moanalua is.

It’s what makes the playoffs that much more interesting. For several minutes in the second quarter, we saw what the Mules are capable of. Their 11-0 run had No. 4-ranked Moanalua flustered, frustrated and in a rare loss of composure, down on each other after a few missed passes.

The rest of the time, it was no contest. Moanalua won 66-39, running the break, moving the ball fluidly and smartly for better shots. Many of those passes found Marcus Monroe (7-for-12 shooting, 19 points) for open looks near and far, and Keven Amaral (15 points) for his accurate mid-range jumpers.

At one point, Moanalua had Monroe and four guards on the floor, wreaking havoc defensively. Leilehua could not make Na Menehune pay. For all their athleticism, the Mules don’t have a lot of shooters. Carlos Marshall has a nice 3-point stroke, and slashers like Martin Hall and Brent Lemon are tough off the dribble. But the Mules are limited by three factors.

1. Free-throw shooting. Leilehua shot 10-for-31 at the line. Part of that inefficiency came from playing back-to-back nights, but 32 percent is not par for the course.

2. Moanalua outrebounded Leilehua 26-21. Even with bigs like Cassius Camanse and a hustler like Xavieuer Adger (first name has a French twist and spelling), the Mules managed just three offensive boards.

3. Eighteen turnovers.

The pluses are there. Dustin Pau‘u and Marshall are solid ballhandlers against fullcourt pressure. Leilehua has pretty good shot selection (13-for-29) and is unselfish, no surprise with coach Keith Spencer in charge.

Leilehua will get its legs back, and with one more win, the state tournament beckons. If they can just hit some foul shots, a berth is theirs for the taking.

As for Moanalua, it was a mostly scintillating performance, something fans are almost taking for granted. No, there weren’t any alley-oop dunks by Monroe, though freshman guard Marcus Keene tried during that second quarter. His errant pass — giving up an easy layup for a lob to Monroe, who was trailing and in traffic — drew the ire of coach Greg Tacon.

The coach gives his players a lot of flexibility, but only if their plays are within the context of the offense and defense.

“Coach gives us a lot of leeway,” said guard Reece Racoma, who scored five points during Moanalua’s 24-6 run to open the game. “We learned that when we get down, not focusing, we just gotta stay together as a team.”

If that means a 20-5 squad found another way to improve this late in the season, Na Menehune nation will gladly take it.

By Paul Honda, Star-Bulletin


  1. Mainlandbballlover February 15, 2010 1:55 pm

    Paul Honda you write well but I think you are quite a bit bias. Sounds like you feel the ILH is the only real basketball teams on Oahu, namely Kam,Iolani and Punahou. You give a little props to certain OIA east teams, namely Moanalua, Kahuku and Kalaheo. But Paul you give no respect to the western OIA teams none what so ever. Now I like to think im a fair person especially when commenting and critisizing others efforts in sports. But I think you really fail to follow any western teams, judging by your one sided stories. Meaning lack of coverage of basketball state champions hopefuls from the west. There's a couple teams worth the conversation from the west now I know you want to be a complete sports journalist. So tell me why you havent covered any western conference teams, Now if I'm wrong I do apologize, however I found no stories this season on the west teams. Not counting the slam job you did on the Mules, and insults to the Trojans who were undefeated until they ran into teams willing to stall the whole game to squeak a close game lucky win. Came down to a clear bad call at Radford Mililani game. Foul at the buzzer at half court well after 2 steps whistles blows balls below waste level knock off the leg and its called a shooting foul. Hmmmmm interesting well 3 free throws awarded with 0 time on the clock. That was the Trojans 1st lost of the season. So the word out next team which was the Mules try the same formula and sqeak a lucky ending as well. So the next team tries the same formula with no plan B Kapolei tries unsuccessfully to stall as well. Now I think fear and fear alone forced them to do this but what happen was an insult to the players and the game. They held the ball for the intire 4th quarter hoping to get a lucky 3 point shot with seconds on the clock. Trojans are the real deal the best chemistry I've seen here in Hawaii on the high school level, Beating most of it's apponents by 20 or better. These guys have been in mainland tornaments as well as off season play. Tough and talented is way they play and they do it well. Taking a page from mainland elite teams they had competed against they are tried and true. Most think that system ball is the way to win, but i will take talent and creativity anyday. Oh and Red Raiders 1st quarter they were down 20 points and pre season Pete Smith tornament Moanalua lost to Trojans by 15 without their star center. While spitting 2 games to Punahou again without 2 key post starters. Paul to know your field is to be fair to all who participate for the crown. I'm just saying the west will shock you look at Waipuhu 5th ranked Kalaheo game.

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