• Brandon Ching-ScoringLive

Kahuku holds off Kamehameha, 62-57


Peter Caldwell | SL

KAPALAMA HEIGHTS — Three Red Raiders scored in double figures as Kahuku held off Kamehameha in the closing minute, 62-57, in a preseason game at Kekuhaupio Gymnasium on Monday night.

"I wanted our guys to feel and come into a place where the gym is nice and they can get a good game in and tonight was perfect," said Kahuku coach Brandyn Akana.

Samuta Avea, a University of Hawaii signee, scored a team-high 19 points, eight rebounds, and shot 6-for-7 from the free throw line.

"We have good chemistry, but we have to put it together. We like to take advantage of our athleticism. I like to use my height to get over people," said Avea, who's listed at 6-foot-6.

Jessiya Villa, son of Kamehameha standout Kahi Villa, scored 13 points, distributed 10 assists and grabbed six rebounds. Center Taimoana Wright, who benefited the most from Villa's dump-offs, contributed 13 points.

"It feels surreal. There's a big tradition with the Villa family over here. I'm so proud to play in the gym that my dad made so popular and worked so hard in so it was a great opportunity," said Villa.

"That's one of the reasons why I scheduled it because his dad and the history here at Kamehameha so it was a special game for him," said Akana.

Despite the win, the preseason is still a work in progress for the Red Raiders.

Peter Caldwell | SL

"We knew it was going to take a while. Slowly, we'll make our strides and hopefully we peak at the right time," said Akana.

Kamehameha trailed by two after Young's tip in, 15-13, but the Red Raiders went on a 9-0 run capped by Villa's dish to Marcus Damuni to force the Warriors to call timeout.

"That's my job as a leader and point guard to facilitate and get everyone involved. I thank my teammates for finishing majority of the buckets and bringing the intensity," said Villa.

"He's what you want in a point guard. He's going to get a bucket when he needs to and he's going to dish it when he needs to," said Avea, on Villa.

The Warriors answered back with a 13-2 run and Christmas Togiai's putback tied the game at 26. Avea hit his only 3-pointer of the game with about 8 seconds remaining to give Kahuku a 29-26 lead going into halftime.

"Kamehameha is a great team runs a lot of good stuff and make it difficult. We made mistakes and allowed them back in the game, but we were able to hold on and keep that distance," said Akana.

Kamehameha would tie the game at 31 and took a 38-37 lead following Togiai's 3-point play, but the Red Raiders would take a four point lead going into the fourth quarter.

Late in the fourth, Kahuku started to pull away and eventually took a 10 point lead. Victorino-Kato, who led the team with 22 points and seven rebounds, willed the Warriors within striking distance after a pair of 3's, but ultimately could not get any closer. Kobe Young and Laamea Frank each added 11 points.

Kamehameha out-rebounded Kahuku 14 to 2 on the offensive side, but had trouble finishing at the basket. Young had six of the Warriors' 14 offensive boards.

Kahuku will participate in the Iolani Classic and will play Mount Vernon (Mt. Vernon, NY) on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 3 p.m. Villa played in the Classic while attending Martinsburg in West Virginia last year, but for Avea, it will be his first time.

"I'm a big fan of KD (Kevin Durant) and when you hear he played in it you want to see what it's about. This will be my first time. I want to go up against the best and this is the best tournament in the preseason to be in," said Avea.

Kamehameha will participate in the Pete Smith Classic at Kalaheo this week and Maryknoll's Tony Selitto Hawaiian Island Basketball Challenge next week.

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