Punahou running away with home tourney

Top-ranked Punahou can run with anybody and can shoot better than most. Add in a couple of big guys who score, defend and rebound, and you’re looking at a 12-1 team in the preseason.

The Buffanblu topped Hawaii Prep, the defending state Division II champion, 66-27 in the quarterfinals of the Punahou Invitational boys basketball tournament Saturday night at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

Punahou stunned Ka Makani with four 3-pointers in the first quarter — by Jordan Tanuvasa, J.B. Kam, Kala‘i Santos and Dayson Watanabe.

Meanwhile, Hawaii Prep had quality shots that they were just missing on, and as a result, Ka Makani trailed 16-2 after one quarter.

“We got punched in the mouth early,” Hawaii Prep coach Fred Wawner said. “We just couldn’t get it to go in and had some good looks. Punahou shot the ball really well, and they forced us to defend them inside and out.”

Ka Makani (4-4) started to put some offense together in the second half, but still had trouble stopping Punahou’s quick guards and bigs.

The Buffanblu got a huge inside game from Akahi Troske, who scored six of his 10 points in the second quarter as Punahou grabbed a huge 37-5 halftime lead.

Buffanblu guard Chris Kobayashi led his team in scoring on the night with 13 points, nine of which came on 3s.

Nicolas Palleschi dropped in a game-high 14 points, all in the second half, for Hawaii Prep. Hide Akai added eight points.

“This was the first time this season that we’ve gotten beat this bad,” Palleschi said. “In the second half, we were able to work some stuff, and we showed our character especially to ourselves. This (loss) was the worst/best thing that could have happened to us.”

Punahou moves on to the semifinals against Kahuku, which beat Mid-Pacific 82-59 in the other semifinal.

“That will be a big test,” Buffanblu coach Darren Matsuda said. “They (the Red Raiders) are pretty big.”

All of the games now will be big tests for Punahou. As the No. 1-ranked team in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Top 10, the Buffanblu can be sure to get every team’s best every time out.

“Hawaii Prep was cold in the first half,” Matsuda said. “We played pretty good defense and when that’s happening our defense is generating our offense and everything flows. What’s great is everybody is looking for everybody on offense.”

As Wawner said, “Punahou shares the ball well.”

If the Buffanblu keep on playing unselfishly, they will be extremely tough to beat.

Ronley Lakalaka, a defensive stalwart in basketball and a standout linebacker in football, got into the offensive act for Punahou with nine points, including seven in the second half.


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