No. 1 Kahuku storms past No. 7 Kapolei, 70-60, for OIA D1 title
The Red Raiders celebrate after winning their first OIA championship since 2012. CJ Caraang | SL
KAKAAKO — Top-ranked Kahuku opened the game with a 26-point first quarter and never looked back to race past No. 7 Kapolei, 70-60 in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I championship game McKinley's Student Council Gymnasium.
"They wanted this bad. It's been a wonderful year, but we're not done yet. We have a long ways to go. We have check points. This is one of them, next week is the biggest week for us. There are a lot of OIA schools out there so we're privileged to win it," said Kahuku coach Brandyn Akana.
The Red Raiders (14-0) win their first OIA title since 2012 and its their eighth overall and snap the Hurricanes' 12-game winning streak. Kapolei and Kahuku already clinched spots in the Snapple/HHSAA Division I Boys Basketball State Championships.
"We have to keep the same intensity and passion we have for the game. We know what we have to do and practice hard and get back into the lab to take care of business," said Jessiya Villa.
Villa led Kahuku with 24 points and four assists; Daniel Fotu and Samuta Avea added 16 and 15 respectively.
"Losing my sophomore year, I won't forget that day, so this means a lot," said Avea.
"I want to thank the Heavenly Father to allow me to have a speedy recovery and getting a team win. It's surreal and the community supports us. A win like this will boost our confidence and love for each other," said Villa, who was held out against Kailua on Tuesday.
Given Kapolei's quick and athletic personnel, the Hurricanes like to run up and down the court to average 64.8 points per game, but the Red Raiders were up for the challenge.
"That's who they are, they like to go up and down. Because of that, I thought we would get that battle. Then they figured out to slow it down, but we're a team that likes to go up and down too," said Akana.
In a blink of an eye, the Red Raiders opened up the quarter on a 9-0 run and made it, 13-2. Avea and Fotu combined for 19 of the team's 26 first quarter points. Both players also used their length to combine for seven blocks—Fotu with four and Avea with three. Tough-nose defender Codie Sauvao got five steals.
"We came out angry and we didn't like our last game," said Avea. "It's good to have Daniel under the basket knowing he will clean everything up so we do our best to protect the rim," said Avea.
Kapolei got the deficit down to single digits, 26-18 after Isaiah Higa's 3-pointer. However, Kahuku found a way to push the lead back to double digits as Villa willed his way for seven points in the second and fourth quarters.
Kahuku led as much as 21 points, but the Hurricanes came back to whittle the deficit down to nine late in the fourth. Kapolei managed to outscore Kahuku, 25 to 14, but it mostly came against the Red Raider reserves.
Zoar Nedd led Kapolei with a double-double—15 points and 12 boards and also shot 7-for-9 from the free throw line. Jayson Manapal added 10 points including two 3's before fouling out. Isaiah Higa and JaShon Carter each added nine.