Top seed Kamehameha reaches final amid concern for Christmas Togiai’s injury

Kahuku's Shon Reid and Kamehameha's Christmas Togiai both lunged for the ball during the fourth quarter. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

There was so much that was part of a wondrous night in Kamehameha’s 48-39 semifinal win over Kahuku.

Kordel Ng’s one-handed alley-oop dunk, lobbed high by teammate and best friend Christmas Togiai. It came after the whistle and didn’t count, but wow. The wow factor was lit. The transition 3 by Paliku Kamaka, also delivered by Togiai, to cap a 12-0 run that gave the Warriors the lead for good.

Alert plays across the floor, including center Bailey Lee’s timeout while under the duress of a double-team on the baseline during a critical junction in the second half. Preston Ponteras’ clutch shooting at the foul line — 5-for-6 in the final 36 seconds.

All the joy sank as they watched Togiai injure his right knee with 2:20 left after landing awkwardly on a play near the basket. One of Kamehameha’s coaches said Togiai felt a pop. He returned, but didn’t feel right. By the final horn, the talented 6-foot playmaker had ice wrapped around his knee.

Status for the championship game against Maryknoll: unknown, unless you have ultimate faith that Togiai will heal quickly enough in less than 24 hours. The Warriors are deep. Balanced. Smart. Athletic. Tall and long. But even they need a lift from time to time, and Togiai provided it after Kahuku had surged ahead, 25-21, with an 8-0 run in the third quarter.

“Once Christmas hit that big 3, then we started getting going on defense,” Ng said.

Togiai’s straightaway 3 was followed by a 3 by Ponteras for a 27-25 Kamehameha lead. Those shots plus a reinvigorated defense, triggered a 12-0 run that turned the tide for good.

“We’re a good finishing team and our best finisher is Christmas,” said Ng, who finished with 12 points, three steals and two blocks.

Togiai tallied 14 points and six rebounds, both team highs. Ponteras added 11 points and three steals.

After all the work, the struggle of the 2018-19 season with a very young team, and that group’s evolution into the state’s top-ranked team for most of the season, it can’t end like this. It shouldn’t.

Ng, stoic as always, remains quietly optimistic.

“It’s going to be a good game and I can’t wait to play,” he said.

Warriors coach Larry Park has seen just about every wrinkle and angle imaginable in his decades as a coach at different levels.

“Who knows what (Maryknoll coach) Kelly (Grant) might come with tomorrow, but we’ll be ready. We’ll do the best we can to prepare and talk them through it,” Park said.

HHSAA Division I State Tournament

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 17Waiakea vs. LeilehuaLei, 82-53Waiakea
2Feb. 17Kahuku vs. KaiserKah, 56-37Kahuku
3Feb. 17Lahainaluna vs. DamienDMS, 58-49Lahainaluna
4Feb. 17Maryknoll vs. KalaheoMryk, 49-41 (OT)Maryknoll
5Feb. 19(1) Kamehameha vs. LeilehuaKSK, 72-43McKinley
6Feb. 19(4) Baldwin vs. KahukuKah, 64-53McKinley
7Feb. 19(2) Moanalua vs. DamienDMS, 64-57Moanalua
8Feb. 19(3) KS-Hawaii vs. MaryknollMryk, 61-32Moanalua
9*Feb. 20Moanalua vs. KS-HawaiiMoan, 73-61Stan Sheriff Center
10*Feb. 20Leilehua vs. BaldwinBald, 73-54Stan Sheriff Center
11Feb. 20Damien vs. MaryknollMryk, 57-40Stan Sheriff Center
12Feb. 20Kamehameha vs. KahukuKSK, 48-39Stan Sheriff Center
13*Feb. 21Moanalua vs. BaldwinMoan, 64-52Stan Sheriff Center
14*Feb. 21Damien vs. KahukuKah, 50-49Stan Sheriff Center
15Feb. 21Maryknoll vs. KamehamehaMryk, 46-33Stan Sheriff Center
* — consolation


  1. KAHAU ENOS February 20, 2020 11:48 pm

    Great job Kamehameha!!! Well played, well coached, and well deserved!! My son and his teammates n coaches played their okolez off, but just couldn’t get it done. Prayers for Christmas and a speedy recovery. Good luck tomorrow night.

  2. coconutwireless February 21, 2020 5:47 am

    Tough loss for Kahuku, their turnovers by continually trying to dribble thru defenders, getting caught in traps, and most perplexing, not getting the ball to their big man Oscar, who was a dominate force inside. In the 4th quarter, he didn’t touch the ball much nor get the ball dumped low to him. Guess staff had a different game-plan. Kamehameha turned out to be too athletic for Kahuku to continue their game play. Kudos to the Warriors for battling back from behind to dominate the 4th quarter. Good luck to them tonite vs Spartans. Congratulations to Kahuku for getting to the semi finals and a nice run of a season.

  3. One Monteilh February 21, 2020 7:31 am

    @Kahau-Lokana was a beast. Played unreal defense, hustled all game, and made critical shots. Good luck to him in his future endeavors. Kahuku was scrappy and played an awesome game.
    Prayers for Christmas, go get this Imua. Good luck coach Larry.

  4. SweatyMurphy February 21, 2020 1:18 pm

    For as many times as Akana consistently gets his Kahuku teams to the semis, you would think he’d have at least one Coach of the Year honor to his name. Not one. Not even an OIA COY. If Akana ever got offered and took an ILH job where he can give players “financial aid”, it’s a wrap lol.

  5. ILoveHawaii February 21, 2020 1:27 pm

    Who does the voting for the COY?

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