Sports Notebook

DeCosta has Damien
dealing with the ILH's
big boys this year

By Nick Abramo

Change a few letters and you've got a twist on the classic underdog story.

It's David and Goliath, Oahu style.

Damien Memorial High School is specializing in basketball upsets this year.

The Monarchs pulled off a huge 52-49 win over Saint Louis on Jan. 24.

Then, after a loss to league-leading Iolani, Damien's war path continued as the Monarchs knocked off Punahou 43-39 last Saturday night.

"I've been coaching at Damien for five years and this is the first time we've been able to beat big ILH schools," Monarchs coach Byron Mello said.

"For whatever reason, we matched up real well with Saint Louis. The first time around (a 72-57 Crusaders' victory), we played them tough for three quarters and got tired in the fourth. The second time, we played 32 minutes instead of just three quarters."

Ranson DeCosta scored 27 points in that victory, and Mello credited Kaanoi Kalai for running the offense and controlling the tempo and Kawika Lopez for holding his own in the middle on defense against the Crusaders' Wilson Afoa and Tavita Thompson.

Against Punahou, Mello said Damien played its best defensive game of the year. Once again, it was a matter of the Monarchs adjusting.

"The first time we played them (the Buffanblu), they had three guys on the perimeter shooting open shots all night," Mello said. "This time, we did a better job defending it, putting our hands up in the shooters' faces, and we didn't let guys float on the perimeter."

Punahou's Andrew Amigleo had 18 against Damien, but the Monarchs were able to contain Drew Monahan and Jason Sakata.

Mello and his boys weren't able to figure out defending state champion Iolani this year, losing twice.

"Their basketball IQ is high," Mello said of the Raiders. "They can open up close games by making runs, and if you don't answer, you're in trouble."

The Monarchs (4-6) can climb higher in the ILH by finishing strong in their final four games.

"We need to be ready to play, not just kind of rest on what we've done so far," Mello said. "My kids want more. At least I hope they want more."

Iolani's (10-0) rematch against Saint Louis (8-2) is Thursday night at McCabe Gym. The Raiders beat the Crusaders in overtime in the teams' previous meeting.

OIA softball tourney starts today: Mililani and Kailua capped off 10-0 regular seasons in OIA softball last week.

The Trojans and Surfriders are two of four teams who drew a bye for the first round of the league's championship tournament.

Castle and Waianae also received first-round byes.

In opening-round games today at 3:30 p.m., Campbell visits Moanalua, Kahuku travels to Kapolei, Leilehua hits the road to face Kaimuki, and Roosevelt takes on host Pearl City.

OIA soccer tourney continues: The OIA soccer semifinals are at Mililani tonight and tomorrow, with the finals at Pearl City on Saturday.

The girls play tonight as Pearl City and Aiea clash at 5:15, while Mililani faces Kahuku at 7.

It's the boys' turn tomorrow night, with Mililani going up against Castle at 5:15 and Pearl City squaring off against Roosevelt at 7.

Eaton gives his inspiration to alma mater: Kamehameha alumnus Clayton Akea Eaton wrote a Hawaiian oli (chant) and performed it for the Warriors' girls soccer team prior to its game against Punahou last week.

He also performed a haka, which is a challenge to the opponents.

Eaton's haka, unlike his oli, wasn't scripted and it came from spur-of-the-moment "creativity from inside," Eaton said.

His daughter, Keomailani Eaton, plays for Kamehameha. Another daughter, Kalena Eaton, plays for the University of Hawaii.

Eaton, a 1968 Kamehameha graduate who hails from Maui, also did oli and haka for the 2000 Baldwin state championship team when he was an assistant coach for the Bears, and he said he might be doing it for the UH soccer team in the near future.

Parker transfers helping HPA: Four Parker School transfers have contributed in Hawaii Preparatory Academy's rise to the Big Island Interscholastic Federation regular-season boys soccer title -- Trel Mangarin, his brother Kai Mangarin, Andre Laguire and Tyler Levitt.

Trel Mangarin scored 17 goals for the Kamakanis this season after netting 15 for the Bulls a year ago. He and Moi Kanealii scored to give HPA a 2-1 victory over Hilo in the regular-season finale.

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