Xavier Lever shines as Kamehameha, ‘Iolani close out exhibition hoops series

‘Iolani Coach Ryan Hirata chats with his team after another close exhibition loss to Kamehameha. This was the second and final game of the 2020-21 school year for the Raiders. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser.

Another day, another nail biter.

Both times, Kamehameha came up with one more play. Led by Xavier Lever’s 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, the Warriors rallied from a 11-point second-half deficit for a 43-42 exhibition win over ‘Iolani on Saturday morning, completing a home-and-home sweep of the Raiders within a 16-hour span.

In the second game, ‘Iolani’s girls pulled away for a 62-40 win over the Warrior wahine. Kamehameha had a senior-day celebration for the girls after the game.

The win by Kamehameha’s boys closes exhibition play, who also rallied to edge Punahou earlier in the week.

“I feel super good. On the court, I’m just so proud of the boys and their effort,” Kamehameha Coach Larry Park said. “They find a way to win.”

‘Iolani pushed Kamehameha to overtime before the Warriors prevailed, 53-47, on Friday at Father Bray Athletic Center. Against Punahou, they trailed by eight points in the final minutes before rallying.

“I appreciated their attitude and willingness to do what was asked of them,” Park said. “The safety protools. Our school did an awesome job preparing everything for us.”

Kamehameha had its version of senior night with a blue-white game two weeks ago. Ten seniors will graduate this spring.

“We got to honor them. I was really happy with that,” Park said.

Lever, a 6-foot-5 senior, has played and battled despite pain.

“Xavier does so much for us. These last two nights, he was a force inside. We know he can shoot the 3 and handle the ball. And he’s a great student,” Park said. “He wasn’t 100 percent. He had knee surgery and goes to our trainers to get treatment. He battled and wanted to be out there with the guys.”

Neither Kamehameha nor ‘Iolani were especially sharp for the 10 a.m. start time on Saturday, but defense ruled the day again.

The home team trailed 27-16 early in the third quarter and turned the tide with fullcourt pressure defense. Trevor Siu’s lefty layup gave the Warriors a 34-33 lead with 5:58 remaining. The Raiders regained the lead on a 10-footer by freshman Nela Taliauli, but Cade Trujillo scooped up a loose ball and swished an 8-footer in traffic to give the Warriors the lead for good, 36-35, with 4:04 left.

Onipa‘a Pung drove for two buckets, including a traditional three-point play, and Paliku Kamaka scored on another drive to boost Kamehameha’s lead to 43-39 with 1:10 to go.

Taliauli brought ‘Iolani within 43-42 with two free throws at 26.3 seconds left, and a trap by the Raiders on Pung forced a turnover with 19.6 seconds to go. Bailey Bumanglang’s corner 3 was short, and his follow shot was long. Kamaka rebounded with 3 seconds left, and the Warriors ran out the clock for the win.

Troy Tamura led the Raiders with seven points. Pung added six points for the Warriors.

The contest ends a brief exhibition slate for ‘Iolani and Kamehameha following the cancellation of the league season in January.

The girls matchup was another runaway for the two-time defending state champions from ‘Iolani. Lily Wahinekapu scored 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the field. She added six rebounds, five assists, six steals and a block for good measure. Another senior, Kyra Tanabe, poured in 17 points, and Jovi Lefotu tallied 12 points on 6-for-8 shooting.

Freshman Malenaite Sake chipped in seven points and Alexandra Huntimer had five. Senior Alexis Huntimer had five assists, two steals and a block.

Senior Camille Feary led Kamehameha with nine points and nine rebounds. MacKenzie Dela Vega tallied eight points.

‘Iolani overwhelmed Kamehameha on Friday, 71-32, to begin the home-and-home series. Playing its only two exhibition games over this weekend, the Raiders operated a no-interviews, post-game policy for their coaches and players.

The Raiders embraced the Warriors after the game and presented them with lei prior to the senior-day celebration.


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