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  • Paul Honda @ The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Kahuku stuffs Kamehameha-Hawaii


CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

Kahuku’s Tolu Smith was up to the challenge, blocking the shot of Kamehameha-Hawaii’s Nalu Kahapea.

The epic showdown between two of the state’s top big men didn’t quite happen.

Tolu Smith did his part, pouring in all 17 of his points in the first half as unseeded Kahuku dominated Kamehameha-Hawaii 62-37 on Wednesday night at Moanalua gym in the quarterfinals of the Snapple/HHSAA Division I Boys Basketball State Championship.

Defending state champion Kahuku (25-4 overall) will meet Maryknoll today at 5 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center. KS-Hawaii (22-4), the Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion, will meet Kapolei at 1 p.m.

Smith, a 6-10 senior, added eight rebounds before leaving the game for good with 2:24 left in the third quarter. By then, the OIA runner-up Red Raiders led 41-18, coasting the rest of the way as coach Brandyn Akana emptied his bench.

Akana’s defense used a Virginia-type pack-line look to smother KS-Hawaii’s 6-5 senior, Nalu Kahapea. The versatile standout was limited to six points in the first half on 2-for-6 shooting with one rebound. He finished the game with 17 points and six boards.

“It was a little different for us, so I commend Nalu for that,” Warriors coach Mea Wong said. “We drilled for this all week, but we still had a lack of ball movement, and you never know how your team will respond to a team that’s big and fast.”

Though Kahuku clearly pinpointed Kahapea, the rest of the Warriors didn’t take advantage of their opportunities. KS-Hawaii had more turnovers (12) than field goals (six) through the first three periods.

Ruanui Winitana added 11 points, including eight in the second quarter. The game was close, 10-all after the first stanza, when Winitana splashed back-to-back 3-pointers against a Warrior man-to-man defense that sagged in on Smith.

“Our coach always preaches inside-out. There were two, three guys on me so it’s easy for (Winitana) to make those,” Smith said.

Winitana’s deep shots sparked a 17-6 run, and Kahuku led 27-16 at the half. The Red Raiders, who shot 7-for-18 from the arc, looked like a team that has broken through as perimeter shooters.

“We kept pushing the ball because we’ve got guys like Marcus (Damuni) and Robbie (Sauvao),” Winitana said. “Coach said, ‘Shoot the ball, don’t lose confidence.’ ”

Damuni, who injured an ankle during the OIA championship game loss to Kalaheo, said the ankle is at around 75 percent. He still managed to scored eight points with four rebounds in limited action.

“I can’t get any air time,” he said.

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