Top-ranked Kahuku throttles No. 7 Kailua, 53-37

Kahuku's Samuta Avea throws down a two-handed dunk against Kailua's Zachary Marrotte. Sylvia Lee | SL

KAHUKU — Visiting Kailua tried its best to put the brakes on top-ranked Kahuku Wednesday night, but could not stop the inevitable as the Red Raiders rolled to a 53-37 win at Thomas G.S. Walker Gymnasium.

Five players scored seven or more points to help Kahuku — who moved up to No.1 when the latest ScoringLive/Hawaiian Electric Boys Basketball Power Rankings were released on Monday — improve to 2-0 in Oahu Interscholastic Association Eastern Division play.

Kailua, the next ranked team in the OIA at No. 7, dropped to 1-1.

Jessiya Villa had a team-high 14 points with four assists and Codie Sauvao added nine points, seven rebounds and three steals as the Red Raiders outscored Kailua in every quarter for a 16-point victory.

Samuta Avea, Daniel Fotu and Kesi Ah-Hoy rounded out Kahuku's leading scorers with seven points each. Avea led the team in rebounds with 12, seven of which came on the offensive glass, while Fotu had seven boards and four blocks off the bench. Ah-Hoy was solid all-around, adding five rebounds, three steals and two assists.

Kailua wanted to be patient in its half court sets, but struggled against Kahuku's airtight defense. The Red Raiders combined their length and athleticism to great success as they force 16 turnovers and recorded 12 steals and six blocks while holding the Surfriders to 25 percent shooting from the field (11 of 44).

After leading by just one after the first quarter, 11-10, the Red Raiders took things into their own hands and pressured Kailua in the second stanza to great effect as they took a 23-14 lead into halftime.

Kahuku coach Brandyn Akana said Kailua's strategy played into his team's hands down the stretch.

"That's why the game started off slow. They weren't in any hurry. They're going to slow it down, they didn't want to run with us, so that's when we turned up our intensity and got after them a little bit to speed up the game."

When Kailua didn't turnover the ball, it struggled to get good shots off. The Surfriders started the second quarter 0-for-6 and didn't get a field goal until there was 75 seconds left in the first half.

"We just went away from our game plan," said Kailua coach Wally Marciel. "Our game plan was to slow down the game and make this a possession game. We did that for the first 10 minutes of the game, and then we just threw away the ball. Too many turnovers."

Fotu, who is listed as a 6-foot-8 junior, was the catalyst for the Red Raiders' second quarter swing. With a bonafide shot blocker Fotu defending the paint, Kahuku's perimeter defenders were able to shorten the gap between the Surfriders' ball handlers.

"It's always good to have a shot blocker back there waiting," said Akana. "When you do have a shot blocker, you can pressure more, and if they get in, then they have to get pass him."

Kahuku also outworked the Surfriders and gathered 21 total offensive rebounds. The Red Raiders had 48 total rebounds to Kailua's 32.

The Surfriders held the lead just once, 8-5, after back-to-back triples by Zachary Marrotte and Keoni Serikawa Jr. midway through the first quarter, but gave up two putbacks by Avea and trailed the rest of the way.

"When someone shoots it, we say ‘crash the board. Everybody go up because we're big and athletic,'" Akana said on his team's rebounding prowess. "Defensively we don't allow anybody to get offensive rebounds and second chance shots. We've been preaching that and hopefully it will carry on through the season."

Sophomore guard Everett Torres-Kahapea led the Surfriders in the loss with a game-high 17 points.

Kahuku will travel to Castle next while Kailua will host Farrington. Both games are slated for Friday night.