HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Kohala runs past Aiea to reach championship
Both Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Kohala and Oahu Interscholastic Association champ Aiea play the same up-and-down, no-holds-barred style of basketball.
The Cowboys proved they are slightly better at it.
Kohala narrowly outgunned its opponent and held on for a 76-72 win last night in a Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Division II Boys Tournament semifinal game at Farrington High. The Cowboys earned a berth in today's first-ever Division II boys state championship game against McKinley.
"We came close (to a title in years past)," said Kohala coach Don Fernandez. "Tonight, we got that done."
Five Cowboys scored in double figures, led by Devin Marquez's 20 points. Jacob Roxburgh and Ryan Bautista added 12 apiece, Brandon Bautista had 11, and 6-foot-7 center Ikaika Kahoopii chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds.
Obie Woods kept Na Alii in it with 23 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Josh Chung added 14 and point guard James Buchanan 10.
In several stretches in the second half, each team went coast-to-coast and scored before the scoreboard was set with the previous total.
The aggressive style took its toll on Na Alii. Several of Aiea's starters ended up in early foul trouble as they went for balls with reckless abandon, forcing coach Wyatt Tau to gamble early and often by keeping his playmakers on the floor.
"At practice, all we do is run," said Marquez. "We're real happy -- this was our goal."
Starters Woods, Buchanan, and Lofi Liilii all picked up their fourth fouls before the end of the third quarter, and missed significant playing time.
"Aiea is a very, very good team," Fernandez said. "They run, hustle, never give up. That's what we do, get the crowd going."
Na Alii (14-2) seemed to have met its match after a season built on the concept of outhustling its often-taller opponents. Neither team seemed to care much for conservative play, which resulted in 22 Cowboy turnovers to 19 for Na Alii.
While Aiea had no player taller than 5-11, Kohala had Kahoopii and 6-4 reserve Alex Vujovich to man the paint.
After the teams swapped the lead twice in the third quarter, the vocal crowd of about 200 -- split evenly between Kohala and Aiea fans -- witnessed the Cowboys take the lead for good on a 3-pointer from Roxburgh with 4 minutes, 32 seconds to play in the game.
Na Alii was forced to foul continuously in the final 2 minutes, and the BIIF champs hit 8 of 14 free throws to keep Aiea at bay.
With 4.2 seconds left and a tenuous three-point lead, the Cowboys' Ryan Bautista took the inbounds pass and was fouled. Needing to connect on just one to all but put away the game, he cooly swished the first shot and pumped his fist at the elated Kohala faithful.
Bautista missed the second, and Woods couldn't draw a foul on his desperation shot from halfcourt at the buzzer.
Kohala--Jacob Roxburgh 12, Mana Pasco 3, Ikaika Kahoopii 12, Devin Marquez 20, Ryan Bautista 12, Blaise Kise 0, Brandon Bautista 11, Alex Vujovich 4.
Aiea--Lofa Liilii 9, Ryan Mora 4, Josh Chung 14, James Buchanan 10, Obie Woods 23, Aldodius Colquitt 0, Eric James 2, Alan Fonoti 4, Jarred McKee 6.
3-point goals--Kohala 3 (Roxburgh, Marquez, B. Bautista), Aiea 6 (Woods 2, McKee 2, Chung 2).