HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Iolani forward Taylor Mounts grappled with Punahou's Kameron Steinhoff during the James Alegre Invitational Basketball Tournament last night. Punahou won 67-56.
Buffanblu make a statement with win over Raiders
The rough spots are smoothing out, for both the Punahou Buffanblu and coach Greg Tacon.
After a lethargic first half, the Buffanblu overcame a 17-point deficit to stun Iolani 67-56 to capture the championship of the James Alegre Invitational last night at Radford High School.
Miah Ostrowski scored 17 points, including four key free throws down the stretch on an otherwise off shooting night. Danny Cho rained in four 3-pointers, including three during a pivotal 22-4 run in the second half. The senior guard finished with 14 points.
Spencer McLachlin finished with 11 points and hauled in eight rebounds to anchor the Buffanblu interior.
The win over the four-time* defending state champions was enough for Punahou. The historic rivalry between the two schools made it even sweeter for the Buffanblu.
"I think the kids won in spite of me," Tacon said. "I was disappointed in our lack of courage in the first half, and I might have reverted back to scolding."
Whatever was said, it seemed to help Punahou come back. Iolani took a 41-24 lead after Vinny Nip swished a trey early in the third quarter, but gradually, the Buffanblu cut into the margin. Reserve posts Kameron Steinhoff and Kimo Makaula helped start the big run, and McLachlin's only trey cut the lead to 48-45 just before the third quarter closed.
Punahou, pressing fullcourt, tied the game when Ostrowski stole a pass and fed Cho for a layup. Cho followed with a 3-pointer from the right corner off a feed from McLachlin to give Punahou a 55-52 lead with 2:25 remaining.
The Buffanblu made seven of their eight free-throw attempts in the final 59 seconds to ensure the win.
Nip led Iolani with 14 points before fouling out with 4:08 to play. Freshman Liloa Nobriga added 11 points.
"It always hurts when your best shooter has to sit down, but hopefully he'll learn from this," Raiders coach Mark Mugiishi said. "Physically, we've got the tools to do well, but we've got a lot of young guys. We made four bad decisions in a row during that fourth quarter."
Nip's final two fouls came on calls away from the ball.
"Punahou's our arch rival, and we like to beat them every time, but we didn't execute like we wanted to," the senior guard said. "The effort was there."
The Raiders launched twice as many shots as Punahou, but shot just 31 percent (25-for-81). The lack of consistent inside scoring hurt. With Wally Marciel in foul trouble, Iolani attempted just seven free throws and made three.
Among the four Raiders who weren't available to play was forward Jon Takamura.
"Jon's important for us. It'll be good to get him back," Mugiishi said.
Punahou shot 53 percent from the field (21-for-40), including 5-for-12 accuracy from the 3-point line. The Buffanblu made 15 of 27 tries from the free-throw line. Those numbers helped them overcome 16 turnovers against Iolani's man-to-man defense.
Punahou's constant platooning took a toll on Iolani.
"I think Iolani played seven or eight guys, while we had 13 guys going 100 percent all the time," McLachlin said. "The body can only take so much. Fatigue got them, and our legs were fresh."
The first half was entertaining, if ragged. Iolani shot well from the field (16-for-34) as Nip swished his first three 3-point attempts and had 11 points by halftime.
The Raiders led 14-6 and maintained a single-digit lead for most of the first half. Punahou, platooning four to five players at a time every 3 minutes, never quite found its rhythm.
Nip's third trey of the half capped a 7-0 run that gave the Raiders a 26-15 lead midway through the second quarter. A layup by Kawika Shoji gave Iolani its biggest lead, 34-20, with 2:40 left in the half.
Ostrowski, a Buffanblu football player shaking rust off after just a week of basketball, had eight first-half points on 2-for-5 shooting from the field. He also had three turnovers in the first quarter. As a team, the Buffanblu had nine turnovers by intermission.
In other games, Kamehameha beat Radford 53-25 for third place, Kahuku topped Moanalua 68-63 for fifth place and Leilehua defeated Honokaa 49-31 for seventh.
Monday, December 12, 2005
» Iolani is the four-time defending state champion in boys basketball, not the three-time defending champion as was reported yesterday on Page B14.