Pre-game: Kahuku-Moanalua, boys hoops

By Paul Honda

Don’t get confused now.

Kahuku scored just 40 points in a playoff loss to Mililani.

A week or so later, the Red Raiders scored 64 in a win over those same Trojans. What gives?

Well, Kahuku had a poor shooting night in the loss. On Tuesday, it was a run-and-gun tempo for both teams early on, especially with Mua Malufau and Samala Afalava hitting open 3-pointers — to Mililani’s surprise — in an elimination playoff game.

So, are the Red Raiders fueled today? Will they run and gun with the fastest of them all, Moanalua? It’s a tough call for any team in mid-week, with the daily grind of school. But for Kahuku, coming in from the North Shore means both early mornings and late nights. No excuses, but sleep debt is a real issue, and so is the accumulation of miles.

That means Kahuku is facing obstacles beyond the norm, but the Red Raiders are somewhat used to them.

Tonight, it’ll be interesting to see if they stick to a 2-3 zone and fullcourt pressure. The Red Raiders have depth at all positions, so the possibilities are many for coach Hiram Akina.

Moanalua, refreshed by a one-week break, will probably hit the accelerator from the opening tip. If Kahuku runs and shoots well, it could be a 200-point game. More likely, though, Akina will gauge his team’s energy level and control the tempo. With a sharpshooter like Nehoa Akina (the coach’s son), a low-scoring game is never a negative situation for Kahuku.

Take away the travel factor and this would probably be a tight one. The teams split their games during the regular season, with the home team losing each time.

Moanalua’s perimeter-oriented lineup means Kahuku might go smaller to defend the 3-point arc, or just stay big and pound away inside. It’s a chess match for Akina and Moanalua coach Greg Tacon.

Right now, it’s Moanalua that has more playmaking pieces, but Kahuku needs this win to force a winner-take-all on Saturday.

Tip-off is 7 p.m., broadcast live on OC 16.


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