Right now, No. 1 ‘Iolani leads No. 7 Kalaheo 7-6 after one quarter here at Punahou. A parent of one of Kalaheo’s players told me that Kekai Smith is not dressed because he’s going to have surgery on a meniscus (knee). He’s been playing, and playing well, despite the injury. From what I’ve seen of Kalaheo recently, they are fairly quick and cohesive as a group, but there’s no question Smith is their on-court leader. He returned as a senior with well-earned credentials as one of the top defensive players in the league, but it’s his shooting range and accuracy that have blown my mind this winter.
‘Iolani is playing without Hugh Hogland, their 6-foot-8 junior center. He tweaked an ankle during the ‘Iolani Classic, and I believe it’s the same ankle he injured back in Week 1 at the James Alegre Invitational. Hogland is another returnee who’s had a strong preseason. He was stellar against mainland teams like Fairfax (Calif.) last week. But resting him is the wise move. The ILH regular season will be brutal for all teams, and it’s only a week or so away.
Kalaheo leads 20-16 at the half.
It’s fourth-quarter time for ‘Iolani and Kalaheo. Game is tied at 32. A surprise, bit of a surprise, but with one very key player missing from each lineup today, it’s a defensive battle. Kalaheo sticking with a 2-3 zone, smothering and sticky. Not easy for the best athlete of the floor, Robby Mann, to get an open look.
And just as I say that, there he goes. Steal by ‘Iolani and Mann goes up for an easy layup as three Raider fans scream for him to dunk. Another Kalaheo turnover and it’s Zach Gelacio with the open deuce. 38-34, 4:51.
‘Iolani 48, Kalaheo 40, Final
Mann scored all 14 of his points in the second half. It was nice to see him step up and assert himself, for the first time I’ve seen in preseason, really. He has that kind of ability and motor. Gelacio added 11 points.
Captain Whitlock scored five first-have points and finished with seven against ‘Iolani’s man defense. I thought he might score more, but credit the Raiders. Andrew Kearny scored 11 for the ‘Stangs. Alex Layi had a team-high 15 points.