Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, February 14, 2002


Ikaika Alama-Francis of Kalaheo drove past Castle's Mike Proctor during yesterday's OIA semifinal at Kalaheo.

Mustangs hold off
Knights' challenge

By Marc Dixon

More than 450 people crammed the bleachers at Kalaheo High School to watch the defending state champion Mustangs take on Castle last night. The capacity crowd was seated under 16 Kalaheo boys basketball championship banners, next to a 22-member Kalaheo high school band and in front of a raucous cheerleading squad and 6-foot tall Mustang mascot.

Castle didn't care.

The Knights used a balanced scoring attack, a refuse-to-lose attitude, and the memory of a recent blowout to take the OIA's best team to the brink before finally succumbing in a 64-51 loss.

"I thought all along they were the second-best team in the East and they played like it," said Kalaheo coach Pete Smith. "They were out here for respect and revenge."

Castle used a 32-point loss to the Mustangs a month ago as motivation. They might not have won the game, but they did put a scare into Kalaheo and give notice that Castle belongs among Hawaii's best.

"The first game was one of those games where Kalaheo just couldn't miss," said Castle coach Rocky Fraticelli. "This game sent a message -- we are state worthy."

Kalaheo jumped out to a 9-2 lead with suffocating backcourt pressure and Sam Wilhoite and Ikaika Alama-Francis controlling the boards. The game had every indication it would be a repeat of the early January meeting.

However, minutes into the second quarter, Pookela Craig-Rodenhurst nailed a 3-pointer to cap a Castle run that brought the Knights to within one. It was a trend that would repeat itself the rest of the evening.

While Kalaheo's two-headed monster of D.C Daniels and Alama-Francis combined for 42 points, Castle managed to get big plays from several players. In the first half, it was Charles Teixeira matching Alama-Francis post move for post move. With time running out in the second quarter, Joel Botelho swooped in from the top of the key with a finger roll to close the first-half scoring at 32-28 in favor of Kalaheo.

In the second half, it was more Teixeira, this time with help from Michael Proctor, who made the Knights' first two field goals and later put in an incredible, twisting, 180-degree shot from under the basket to close the lead to four again with 3:30 left in the game.

But in the end, the champs were just too much. After watching teammate Alama-Francis control the early part of the game, Daniels took advantage of the Knights' concentration on his 6-foot-6 teammate. Daniels hit a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer, swished the first shot of the fourth quarter, then grabbed one of his four offensive boards and put it back in after Castle had closed to 54-51 on a Ryen Isip 3-pointer.

"That's what it takes, a team effort," said Alama-Francis. "It can't be about just me and D.C. Everyone has to play their role and we'll be successful."

Kalaheo advances to the OIA championship game for the third straight year and will take on Mililani tomorrow night at the Neal Blaisdell Center.

Castle 8 20 11 12 -- 51

Kalaheo 14 18 14 18 -- 64

CASTLE -- Joel Botelho 5, Emmett Aberilla 0, Ryen Isip 12, Michael Proctor 13, Pookela Craig-Rodenhurst 3, William Harvest 2, Justin Bruhn 5, Charles Texteira 11, Nelden Torres 0.

KALAHEO -- Charles Elliot 4, Michael Gayle 3, James Robertson 1, Shaine Harada 1, Ikaika Alama-Francis 18, Justin Pedrina 7, D.C. Daniels 24, Michael Garcia 5, Sam Wilhoite 1.

3-point goals -- Castle 2 (Isip 2), Kalaheo 4 (Daniels, Elliot, Garcia, Gayle).

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