Kahuku ousts defending champ ‘Iolani
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
Kahuku’s Samuta Avea drove to the basket against ‘Iolani’s Justin Genovia.
For the better part of 32 minutes in regulation, Dan Fotu was a fouling machine.
In overtime, the 6-foot-7 junior was a scoring machine, pumping in his team’s first six points as top-seeded Kahuku escaped with a 51-48 victory over defending state champion ‘Iolani on Thursday night at McKinley Student Council Gymnasium.
Kahuku (25-3 overall) advanced to the Division I final of the Snapple/HHSAA Boys Basketball State Championships and will meet Punahou, the ILH champion, tonight at Stan Sheriff Center. This will be Kahuku’s fourth trip to the title game.
Guard Jessiya Villa shot just 4-for-15, but finished with 16 points as Fotu sat for large portions of regulation. UH-bound Samuta Avea added 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Codie Sauvao came up with three of Kahuku’s eight steals.
Hugh Hogland led ‘Iolani with 14 points and 11 rebounds. The UC Santa Barbara-bound post also blocked seven shots. Justin Genovia also scored 14 points, but shot 3-for-13 from the field.
The Raiders showed some of the effects of playing their ninth game in 13 days, shooting just 41 percent against a rugged Kahuku man defense. They shot 3-for-14 from 3-point range and committed 19 turnovers.
“Our guys came through. I know what they can do, and they just had to be patient,” Kahuku coach Brandyn Akana said. “‘Iolani will keep coming and they get the most out of their guys. We knew we could get stops, and in overtime, we got them on the (lob) passes to Hugh (Hogland).”
Kahuku looked decidedly unfamiliar with the grind of a tight game, unlike ‘Iolani, which dealt with tight situations all season in the ILH. When it was crunch time, however, the Red Raiders were ready.
“It’s a game of runs. We came out playing like we do at practice. That’s the way we love to play,” Avea said of Kahuku’s 14-point lead.
ILH runner-up ‘Iolani (22-10 overall), which won two of the previous three state titles, missed the state final for the first time in Hogland’s career. Kahuku, which has never won the state title — not counting three Class A tournaments a generation ago — last reached the state final in 2012, losing to Punahou 59-52.
This season, Punahou went to Kahuku and won a nonconference game prior to the arrival of Fotu from Auckland, New Zealand.
“I can’t wait to play them. I’ve been thinking of them ever since the loss,” Avea said.
The Red Raiders eked out an 8-7 lead after one quarter, then went on a 9-2 run in the second to open a 17-9 lead by halftime. The defensive battle was no surprise with the Red Raiders featuring Fotu, the 6-6 Avea and 6-4 reserve Taimona Wright at the rim against ‘Iolani’s returning All-State player of the year, the 6-9 Hogland.
The senior had just two points in the first half even though Fotu sat most of the time with foul trouble.
Kahuku went on an 8-2 run to begin the third quarter, getting a 3-pointer from Kesi Ah-Hoy and a fadeaway shot in traffic by Villa. The senior guard hit the ensuing free throw and the Red Raiders were in control, 25-11, with 5:06 to go in the third.
Then came the Raiders of ‘Iolani, who chipped away and cut the lead to 32-25 by the end of the quarter. Hogland had six points in the third, and had control of the paint by then with four blocks.
Kahuku settled for tough shots offensively during this stretch and ‘Iolani took advantage, tying the game at 35, 37 and 39.
Fotu went to work right away, stealing a lob pass and scoring on the other end with two free throws. After Avea stole the next lob attempt to Hogland, Fotu hustled for a putback and it was 44-40. ‘Iolani cut it to 44-42 on a Helam Baldomero drive with 1:55 to go, but Fotu drove for another bucket and Kahuku had a four-point lead with 1:43 left.
After Genovia hit one foul shot with 1:09 to go, Villa fed Sauvao in transition for a crucial bucket and a 48-43 lead with 54 seconds to go. Villa added a free throw with 33.6 seconds left, and Hogland then overthrew Baldomero on a fast break. That led to an easy layup for Ah-Hoy with 21 seconds left.
Baldomero sank a corner 3 in the final seconds and Kahuku let the clock run out.
HHSAA BOYS DIVISION I PLAYOFFS
Kahuku 51, ‘Iolani 48
‘Iolani 7 2 16 15 8 — 48
Kahuku 10 7 15 8 11 — 51
‘IOLANI—Helam Baldomero 8, Kawika Lee 2, Frank Felix 3, Ryan Van Cantfort 2, Bailey Alabanza 5, Noah Bumanglag 0, Justin Genovia 14, Cole Hogland 0, Cameron Chang 0, Hugh Hogland 14.
KAHUKU—Jessiya Villa 16, Kesi Ah-Hoy 7, Kenneth “KJ” Macatiag 0, Mark Viloria 0, Marcus Damuni 0, Daniel Fotu 8, Codie Sauvao 4, Samuta Avea 12, Taimona Wright 4.
3-point goals—’Iolani 3 (Baldomero 2, Alabanza). Kahuku 4 (Avea 2, Ah-Hoy, Villa).