Sophomore Jeremiah White’s 26 points boosts Kaimuki over Le Jardin

The Kaimuki Bulldogs are 12-4 overall with a six-game win streak coming into the Division II state championships. Photo courtesy of Jocelyn Hightower.

Jeremiah White knows solitude well.

When his family moved back home from Texas a few years ago, there was peace. Reconnection with aunties and uncles and cousins. Then, in a blink of an eye, everything changed. White’s father, Josh “Zeus” White, passed away in 2020. He was 43.

The legendary Farrington and Cal running back was simply dad to Jeremiah, who later enrolled at Kaimuki High School.

“I knew this kid was special,” Kaimuki boys basketball coach Greydon Espinda said. “During the shutdown for football, I saw him at the park by himself doing agility drills. Ladders. Cones. That’s how I knew I had to make him a captain.”

The Bulldogs football team hung in with the same dogged determination as head coach David Tautofi was released early in the season. Rather than fold, the players kept grinding and completed their season, strange and complicated as it was.

Basketball season began. White, just a sophomore, showed some potential with his 6-foot-1 frame, a speedster in the body of a safety, strong enough to play linebacker, agile enough to be a game breaker. White became more than a starting point guard.

On Thursday, he scored a career-high 26 points as Kaimuki outscored a tough Le Jardin squad, 74-61, in the quarterfinals of the Heide & Cook/HHSAA Boys Basketball Division II State Championships. Senior Malu Cleveland tallied 17 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals. Classmate Rashawn Fritz-Betiru added 12 points, six boards and three steals, and KC Renton tallied 11 points and five caroms.

It has been a season of ups and downs, but Kaimuki’s arrow has pointed upward for weeks now.

“These kids are a special group of kids. They’ll go out of their way to say goodbye or hello,” Espinda said.

Espinda was impressed, but not surprised by the grit of Le Jardin’s seven-man roster.

“Coach (Tim Harrison) is doing a great job there,” Espinda said. “I congratulated him. He’s doing well with them. I also had to go up to No. 12 and tell him he played a hell of a game.”

No. 12 is Kai Kimhan, who led LJA with 17 points and four steals. Duke Thomas hustled for 11 points, 16 rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks. Kaiko Alana added 10 points and eight boards.

“We were hitting our shots tonight. We got off to another great start. We also made free throws,” Espinda said. “Le Jardin brought it down to one point. We didn’t lose our poise. We called a time out, made a few adjustments and made a run. I’m sure (Le Jardin) was tired. Give credit to them. That’s a good team. Those seven players play a good brand of basketball. Those Le Jardin kid are ballers.”

The Bulldogs of LJA (12-5) had scored 61 or more points only twice all season. They had also never allowed more than 47 points in a game.

“It probably was one of our better games offensively,” coach Harrison said. “Defensively, we couldn’t get a stop when we needed one down the stretch, and they hit their free throws at the end of the game. I’m sure the fans enjoyed the game. Both teams shot well and there were a number of momentum swings. Hat’s off to the Bulldogs!”

On Friday, Kaimuki (13-4) will meet another defensive-minded, fullcourt-pressing champion: Hawaii Baptist. The Eagles won the ILH D-II title this season under first-year head coach Kellen Kaneshiro. Kaimuki won the OIA D-II crown after trailing Kalani in the OIA East standings for most of the season.

Hell or high water, something will give when the Eagles and Bulldogs clash.

“HBA is quick,” Espinda said. “They’ll press end to end.”

HBA and Kaimuki will tip off at Kalani gym 7 p.m.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email