OIA RED BOYS CHAMPIONSHIP
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Mililani's Scott Burns went over Moanalua's Ryan Hua last night at McKinley High School.
Mililani makes some noise
Moanalua brought the heat, but it was the Mililani Trojans who were fueled by a higher power.
Dedicating their title game to injured point guard Curtis Murakami, Mililani overwhelmed Moanalua 49-34 last night to capture its first Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference boys basketball championship.
Scott Burns, Murakami's childhood buddy, scored 14 points and anchored the Trojans' effort from a sizzling-hot start to the finish.
"I just wanted to win for him. This is for Curtis," said Burns, a 6-foot-3 senior who also had four rebounds and two steals. "This is my first high school game without him."
The title comes just three years into Hiram Akina's leadership at Mililani (13-3).
"Our guys were resilient. Every time Moanalua made a run, we made a run ourselves," the former college coach said. "(Stevie) Austin, (Josh) Kure and those guys can catch and shoot with the best, and we took that away."
Mililani was ranked No. 9 last week, but will have the OIA's seeded berth and first-round bye at the state tourney, which begins on Wednesday.
Eighth-ranked Moanalua (12-5) seemed to be a team of destiny. Na Menehune came into the final riding an eight-game win streak, including a stunning upset of No. 1 Kalaheo two nights earlier. However, Mililani's sticky 2-3 zone shut down Moanalua's long-range game. Moanalua shot 2-for-24 from 3-point range.
Offensively, Aaron Lenchanko and Warren Duke added eight points each. Mililani was torrid early on as Duke scored six points in a row to close the first quarter, and the Trojans led 19-4 on 58 percent shooting.
Na Menehune shot 1-for-13 from the arc in the first half and couldn't seem to get an open look as Mililani rotated up to 10 players. Burns hit a trey from the right corner to open a 36-18 lead with 4:33 left in the third quarter.
Moanalua finally got some momentum and pulled within 40-32 after Shawn Richey hit a post shot.
Nine fourth-quarter turnovers by Mililani had Burns nervous. "Some people were losing their heads, dropping the ball. I was worried about (Moanalua) coming back."
However, Mililani reserve Nick DeMusis hustled for a putback and Lenchanko drove for a deuce to give the Trojans a commanding 44-32 lead with 2:39 left.
By then, the pro-Trojan crowd of about 2,000 could smell victory. Moanalua got no closer than 10 the rest of the way.
"Our game plan went out the window when they hit so many shots," Moanalua coach Greg Tacon said. "They played with a lot of emotion, with their (floor) leader out. I have no complaint with our effort in the second half. We battled well. We were a little too down on ourselves in the first half."
In their previous matchup, a nonconference tournament game on Nov. 29, Mililani won 61-59.
"They believed in themselves and had confidence. They had to work on all the little things," Akina said. "They mastered those and got to a higher level."
Murakami, the roadrunner quick senior, saw his teammates and some fans wear black T-shirts labeled with his number (12) and name. The victory was bittersweet as he leaned on Akina after the game.
"I knew they were going to pull through," he said. "Scotty was calling me all day, saying they would pull through. I knew it."
Mililani shot 50 percent (18-for-36) and overcame 20 turnovers. The Trojans outrebounded Moanalua 31-19.
At McKinley Student Council Gym
MILILANI -- Daniel Paglinawan 0, Devin Hall 0, Scott Burns 14, Cody Kilthau 0, Moshi Mabry 0, Nehoa Akina 7, R.J. Griffin 0, Devon Castellano-Chock 0, Aaron Lenchanko 8, Warren Duke 8, Nick DeMusis 4, Reid Pangelinan 3, Bo Keto 0, Jon Keen 5.
MOANALUA -- Josiah Kauhola 9, Randy Starks 0, Shane Aquino 0, Stevie Austin 10, Josh Kure 6, Marcus Monroe 0, Ryan Hua 5, Shawn Richey 4, A.J. Kirkman 0, Richard Villasenor 0, Maurice Allen 0.
3-point goals -- Moanalua 2 (Austin, Hua), Mililani 3 (Burns 2, Lenchanko).