Chiu’s 3 rallies Kalaheo to stunning win over Kahuku
JAY METZGER / SPECIAL TO THE STAR-ADVERTISER
Kalaheo’s Cannen Chiu rose up and hit the game-winning 3-point basket to defeat Kahuku.
Cannen Chiu rattled home a straightaway, 23-foot 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left to give Kalaheo a stunning 55-53 win over No. 4 Kahuku on Wednesday for the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I boys basketball championship.
Tolu Smith, Kahuku’s 6-foot-10 senior, had a game-high 21 points plus six rebounds and two blocks before a robust crowd of about 1,000 at McKinley Student Council Gymnasium. He scored nine points in the fourth quarter on 4-for-4 shooting from the field, but it wasn’t enough. Robbie Sauvao added 10 points, and Ethan Erickson had eight points and seven rebounds for Kahuku (24-4 overall).
Kalaheo upset two teams that were unbeaten in regular season play during a span of three days. The unranked Mustangs toppled No. 5 Kapolei by a near-identical 56-53 score in the semifinal round on Monday night.
This time, the difficulties were almost monumental for Kalaheo when 6-foot-4 Andrew Kearney fouled out with 1:26 remaining. Kalaheo was in the midst of a breathtaking comeback after trailing 37-23 early in the third quarter. When Kearney fouled out, Kalaheo (20-11 overall, including nonconference games) trailed 52-47 and seemed to be out of ammunition after Kahuku switched from man defense to a 1-2-2 zone.
Instead, the Mustangs got some valuable help from the Red Raiders. Kahuku point guard Ruanui Winitana was fouled, but teammate Lokana Enos, a sophomore, was whistled for a technical foul. Winitana made one of his two free throws, and Chiu hit one of his two technical free throws, and Kalaheo got the ball back. That set up a huge shot by Kalaheo’s super sophomore.
For the second time this week, Kanoa Smith proved to be clutch, splashing a wing 3 to bring Kalaheo within 53-52 with 35 seconds to play.
“I just knew we had to get the ball back,” the 6-foot, left-handed guard said.
Within a flash after Smith’s trey, the Red Raiders were whistled for an offensive foul in the backcourt. Kalaheo worked the clock down to 12.8 seconds and called timeout.
“We wanted to draw Tolu out, have Cannen drive to the bucket and try to crash the boards,” Kalaheo coach Rob Pardini said.
The Mustangs ran their motion offense cleanly, but Chiu noticed that time was running out much more quickly than they planned.
“There wasn’t enough time to drive. It was at 4 seconds,” the 6-1 senior said.
He pulled up off the dribble against Smith and let his shot fly.
“I knew I had to get extra arch on it. I thought I missed to the right,” he said of the game-winner.
Down two points, Kahuku had 1.9 seconds to get the ball in and score, but the inbounds pass by Sol-Jay Maiava scraped the low ceiling at McKinley. Kalaheo got the ball near its basket.
Smith deflected the inbounds pass out of bounds, leaving 1.6 seconds in the game. The ensuing inbounds pass went out of bounds again, this time off a Kalaheo player with six-tenths of a second left. After a Kahuku time out, Maiava’s two-handed pass fell short of Kahuku’s key area and was intercepted, ending the game.
“This is what we worked for,” said Kearney, who had 10 points and five boards despite a badly sprained right ankle. “Though all the adversity and all the mess, we got through it.”