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No. 1 Kahuku escapes with 42-40 win over No. 9 Kailua

Kahuku's Samuta Avea drives past Kailua's Zachary Marrotte and puts up a right-handed scoop shot over the Surfriders' Christian Mejia. Steve Erler | SL

KAKAAKO — This one was a little too close for comfort.

Samuta Avea came up clutch in the fourth quarter and Daniel Fotu poured in a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds to help top-ranked Kahuku squeak past No. 9 Kailua, 42-40, at McKinley's Student Council Gymnasium in league semifinals Tuesday night.

The Red Raiders (13-0), who were without senior point guard and leading scorer Jessiya Villa (16.5 points per game), move on to face No. 7 Kapolei (12-0) Thursday night for the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I title in a battle between two unbeaten teams.

Avea, who will play collegiately at the University of Hawaii, gave Kahuku the lead for good with under two minutes to play with a contested shot in the lane. He also scored five straight points midway through the fourth quarter to cut the Surfriders' lead down to one and finished with 14 points.

The absence of Villa was felt early on in the contest. While the Red Raiders' defense was still top notch, forcing five first quarter turnovers, they struggled to get quality shots off and went 3-for-11 from the field in the opening period.

Kahuku started to find its groove in the second quarter, but so did Kailua as the Surfriders took a 17-16 lead at the break.

The Surfriders maintained its lead through the third quarter and took a 37-31 lead midway through the final period of play before Avea went on a scoring spree to cut Kailua's lead.

After the Red Raiders took the lead for good on Avea's drive to the hoop, Fotu came up with a big block on Kailua's Keoni Serikawa Jr. to preserve the lead, 40-38.

Then a series of late game free throws occurred.

Avea split a pair at the line with 30.7 remaining, to make it a three-point game before Kailua called timeout with 11.3 left on the clock.

Kailua's Aaron Mejia missed an open look from on top of the 3-point arc, but Kahuku's Codie Sauvao was called for a loose ball foul that sent Everett Torres-Kahapea to the charity stripe with 5.2 remaining.

Torres-Kahapea made both free throw attempts to make it a one-point game before Kailua fouled Kahuku's Mark Viloria with 3.9 on the clock in a one-and-one bonus.

Viloria missed the free throw, but Kahuku's Kesi Ah-Hoy came up with the offensive rebound to retain possession.

Ah-Hoy was fouled with 2.1 remaining and made the first free throw in a double bonus situation before Kailua called timeout. Whatever play the Surfriders drew up in the huddle never materialized as Sauvao rebounded Ah-Hoy's missed free throw and held on as time expired.

Torres-Kahapea had 15 points on three made 3-pointers to lead Kailua in the loss.

Villa's status for Thursday's championship game is unknown. He suffered a concussion in practice last Wednesday and was held out in the Red Raiders' two playoff games to date. According to a team official, he is currently going through the concussion protocol.

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