Punahou captures Pete Smith Classic title

McKinley's Macjun Otarra and Punahou's Dayson Watanabe scrambled for the ball in the Pete Smith final on Saturday. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser
McKinley’s Macjun Otarra and Punahou’s Dayson Watanabe scrambled for the ball in the Pete Smith final on Saturday. Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser

Jordan Tanuvasa’s scoring highlighted Punahou’s victory over McKinley in the championship game of the Pete Smith Classic on Saturday.

But Punahou coach Darren Matsuda also praised the other phases of his play at point guard after the 55-46 win at Kalaheo’s gym.

“Especially in the second half he did an excellent job of distributing the ball, taking really good shots and being aggressive and that was the difference in the game,” Matsuda said.

Tanuvasa opened the game by knocking down a shot in the first 10 seconds and maintained his shooting rhythm in draining five 3-pointers in a 25-point performance for the Buffanblu.

He ended the first half by hitting a trey just before the buzzer then made two more in the third quarter as Punahou opened up a 15-point lead.

McKinley battled back with a 10-2 run to open the fourth quarter, but Tanuvasa drove for a jumper to help Punahou maintain control and made four free throws in the final minute.

Jonah Howard led McKinley with 16 points and Macjun Otarra added 10 as the Tigers completed a statement week with a runner-up finish in a tournament featuring the top three teams in this week’s Star-Advertiser poll.

Dan Villejo finished with three points a night after scoring 22 against Kalaheo. He dished out five assists, but the Punahou defense didn’t allow him many open looks from 3-point range.

“They’re a fast team, they’re probably the quickest team we’ve faced,” Matsuda said. “Their guards are very quick, very athletic, we like to play up and down and they do too. When we get the half court we just really have to lock down defensively.”

Punahou claimed the tournament title with four wins in four days, as the Buffanblu prepare for the regular season and beyond.

“It’s good because we have to get used to it,” Matsuda said. “If we get to the state tournament, that’s a potential run you have to make, four games in a row. That’s tough, especially the way we play. You could see the legs sometimes dropping a little bit so we have to get in a little better shape.

“Last week we worked on our defense and I though that really improved a lot. This week we really worked on our offense and moving the ball and I thought the team did a really good job of that this week.”

The Buffanblu will have another opportunity to hone their game when they take their turn in the role of tournament host after Christmas.


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