HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou's Sean McFadden soared over Iolani's Andrew Skalman at the James Alegre Invitational title game last night.
Punahou makes early statement to Iolani
Dalton Hilliard was much better late than never.
The junior guard drove the length of the court in 5.5 seconds to score on a tough layup as time expired, lifting Punahou over Iolani 53-52 last night in the final of the James Alegre Invitational Tournament.
Iolani had set up its defense in a zone stretched across the entire court, but called a timeout after seeing Punahou's setup. The Buffanblu anticipated a switch by Iolani to a man-to-man defense. That's when coach Dan Hale told Hilliard to take control.
Hilliard beat his defender before midcourt with a fake crossover, then sped down the left side past two more Raiders to score uncontested as the buzzer sounded.
"I knew my man couldn't catch me if I beat him. The plan was to take it or look for Kam (teammate Kameron Steinhoff)," Hilliard said. "Thank God it went in."
Steinhoff poured in 19 points on 7-for-8 shooting to lead Punahou. No other Buffanblu scored in double figures, and Hilliard's final bucket was a highlight after a long night from the field. He was 1-for-6 until the last play.
"Coach talks about how we're balanced, so there's no pressure on me to score a lot," Hilliard said. "I have to let the game come to me."
Pablo Warner and freshman Trevyn Tulonghari led Iolani with 10 points apiece.
Punahou had command of the game early. Iolani committed six first-quarter turnovers against Punahou's swarming defense and trailed 13-2. Steinhoff had six points early, but committed his third personal foul with 6:41 left in the second quarter and went to the bench.
"He's our leader," Hale said of Steinhoff, who has recovered quickly since suffering a serious injury during football season. His spleen was removed and his prognosis for basketball season had been up in the air.
Iolani gradually chipped away at the margin, sparked by three treys in the third quarter by Bricen McCartney. The Raiders tied the game at 40 on back-to-back foul-line jumpers by Warner, and they went ahead 46-44 on a pair of free throws by Tulonghari. There were seven lead changes in the final 3:54, including a layup by Tulonghari to give Iolani a 52-51 lead with 19 seconds remaining.
Iolani struggled to seal a win. The Raiders missed free throws and committed a turnover in the final 19 seconds to give Punahou a final opportunity with the last 6 ticks of the clock.
Iolani was 14-for-15 from the free-throw line until sophomore Jarrett Arakawa missed two with 6 seconds left.
Punahou shot 44 percent from the field (21-for-48) and 63 percent from the line (10-for-16). Iolani was 40 percent from the field (17-for-42) and 82 percent from the foul line (14-for-17).
Punahou had a slight edge in rebounding, 26-25.
"That's preseason. That gives you something to work on," Hale said of the constant swings of momentum. "We got to look at different combinations and got a lot of good minutes from our guys. Iolani is really deep."