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
|1||Feb. 17||Waiakea vs. Leilehua||Lei, 82-53||Waiakea|
|2||Feb. 17||Kahuku vs. Kaiser||Kah, 56-37||Kahuku|
|3||Feb. 17||Lahainaluna vs. Damien||DMS, 58-49||Lahainaluna|
|4||Feb. 17||Maryknoll vs. Kalaheo||Mryk, 49-41 (OT)||Maryknoll|
|5||Feb. 19||(1) Kamehameha vs. Leilehua||KSK, 72-43||McKinley|
|6||Feb. 19||(4) Baldwin vs. Kahuku||Kah, 64-53||McKinley|
|7||Feb. 19||(2) Moanalua vs. Damien||DMS, 64-57||Moanalua|
|8||Feb. 19||(3) KS-Hawaii vs. Maryknoll||Mryk, 61-32||Moanalua|
|9*||Feb. 20||Moanalua vs. KS-Hawaii||Moan, 73-61||Stan Sheriff Center|
|10*||Feb. 20||Leilehua vs. Baldwin||Bald, 73-54||Stan Sheriff Center|
|11||Feb. 20||Damien vs. Maryknoll||Mryk, 57-40||Stan Sheriff Center|
|12||Feb. 20||Kamehameha vs. Kahuku||KSK, 48-39||Stan Sheriff Center|
|13*||Feb. 21||Moanalua vs. Baldwin||Moan, 64-52||Stan Sheriff Center|
|14*||Feb. 21||Damien vs. Kahuku||Kah, 50-49||Stan Sheriff Center|
|15||Feb. 21||Maryknoll vs. Kamehameha||Mryk, 46-33||Stan Sheriff Center|
|* — consolation|