The St. Francis Saints have come a long way.
With a 76-52 win over Damien on Friday night, the Saints won their second boys basketball Division II state title in a row. Coach Ron Durant stuck with the winning formula: a heavy dose of Kameron Ng and Kordel Ng off the dribble, occasional sprinkles of 3-point bombs from Bryce Nishida, plenty of steady ballhandling and floor leadership from Jett Tanuvasa, big post play from Boris Vukovic, and lots of energy plays from Bubba Akana.
St. Francis finished the season 29-3.
The departure of 6-foot senior Manoa Kuali‘i-Moe before the state tournament could have made a major impact.
“We had a couple of team meetings about Manoa and we told everyone they had to chip in. We can’t just count on Kameron to carry us,” Durant said. “Last night (in the semifinals), Boris came up big with 19 (points) and 17 (rebounds), a critical game against Kauai. Today, Titus (Liu) comes in, hits a 3, and Bryce hits 3s. When guys step up, it helps make up for losing Manoa.”
It was another title, another large koa trophy to take back to their campus in Manoa Valley. Kameron Ng finished the tourney averaging 29.3 points per game, selectively taking advantage of creeping defenders to dish some timely passes to teammates for easy buckets. That helped the Saints overcome an early 9-2 deficit.
“At that point, we got all our jitters out and started playing our game,” the junior guard said.
The only three losses all season came in tournaments. Punahou eked out close wins twice against St. Francis. Kamehameha hung on to beat the Saints, as well. Yet, the program is likely to remain in D-II. Durant cites the depth and size of the league’s D-I programs, and with five seniors leaving soon, he wants at least two or three players in the 6-3 to 6-4 range before seriously considering a move up.
“We’ll have to discuss that as a staff,” he said. “We’ve got Kameron and Kordel coming back. Jett got better as the season went on. We’ve got Titus. It’s tempting.”
|1||Feb. 14||(4) Hawaii Prep vs. Kauai||Kauai, 53-50||St. Francis|
|2||Feb. 14||(1) St. Francis vs. Roosevelt||StF, 62-51||St. Francis|
|3||Feb. 14||(3) Seabury Hall vs. Damien||DMS, 57-45||'Iolani|
|4||Feb. 14||(2) Kalani vs. Honokaa||Kaln, 51-33||'Iolani|
|5*||Feb. 15||Seabury Hall vs. Honokaa||Hon, 47-41||Kaimuki|
|6*||Feb. 15||Hawaii Prep vs. Roosevelt||Roos, 44-43||Kaimuki|
|7||Feb. 15||Damien vs. Kalani||DMS, 45-37||St. Francis|
|8||Feb. 15||Kauai vs. St. Francis||StF, 65-42||St. Francis|
|9*||Feb. 16||Honokaa vs. Roosevelt||Roos, 54-44||Stan Sheriff Center|
|10*||Feb. 16||Kalani vs. Kauai||Kaln, 42-38||Stan Sheriff Center|
|11||Feb. 16||Damien vs. St. Francis||StF, 76-52||Stan Sheriff Center|
|* — consolation|