Crusaders crush

A stingy defense and quick offense was all Saint Louis needed to advance one step closer to the state boys basketball tournament.

Jack Miller scored 13 points as the Crusaders defeated Damien 49-34 in the semifinals of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Third-place Tournament at McCabe Gym last night.

The Crusaders (9-6) face Kamehameha tonight at Kekuhaupi'o Gym, with the winner receiving the league's third and final berth into next week's state tournament.

Leading by just four at halftime, the Crusaders turned up their defense, forcing three consecutive Damien turnovers to start the quarter. Cole Shidaki hit a 3-pointer off of a turnover and the defense didn't allow a look at the basket until 4 minutes had elapsed.

"We felt we just needed to be more aggressive offensively and defensively," Saint Louis coach Delbert Tengan said. "It started on defense. We got a couple of steals early, converted on transition and that got us going."

After closing to 26-22 on two free throws by Lolomana Mikaele, the Crusaders went on a scoring blitz with a coast-to-coast layup by Shidaki and a 6-0 run in the quarter's final minute. By the time it ended, the Crusaders led 34-25.

"Our defense jump-started our offense," Tengan said. "We were stagnant for a while. I felt our kids executed well when they started trapping us. We got nice passes, good ball movement and nice easy baskets."

"They started hitting some easy buckets and we didn't box out too well on our defensive boards," Damien coach Abe Kamana'o said. "They pressure the ball and they don't let you get good shots off."

Back-to-back three-point plays by the Miller brothers, Jack and Jamison, to start the fourth quarter increased the lead to 40-27 and the Monarchs got no closer than 12 after that.

With Damien's defense keying in on Jack Miller, one of the top scorers in the league, the senior found other options in his teammates. Jamison Miller, a freshman, finished with nine points off the bench, while Shidaki, another freshman, helped key the Crusaders' third-quarter run.

"He did a nice job in the second half being aggressive, did some nice things when they defended our perimeter and he took it to the basket and finished some layups," Tengan said of Shidaki. "He's only a freshman but he has grown during the season."

Damien kept close with the Crusaders in the first half and also kept Jack Miller in check, following their plan of having other Crusaders beat them.

"He's a great player and gets everyone else open and involved," Kamana'o said. "Our defensive rotation didn't get to the other guys in time and that opened up his game a little bit more."

Justin Casil led Damien (4-12) with nine points, which doubled its two regular-season wins during the tournament with victories over Word of Life on Tuesday and University on Wednesday.

At McCabe Gym
Damien (4-13) 6 9 10 9 -- 34
Saint Louis (9-6) 9 10 15 15 -- 49

DAMIEN--Justin Casil 9, Devin Shiroma 7, Matthew Gochenouer 2, Michael Sipili 1, Garyk Ontai 0, Antonio Cerezo Jr. 8, Winni Boy Gapuz 0, Lolomana Mikaele 6, Brenton Kanno 0, Brad Akiona 0, Sione Tau 1, Tevon Spiller 0.
SAINT LOUIS--Kulia Aiona 3, John Quindara 0, Kawika Kekuawela 0, Kyle Gonzaga 0, Cameron Bayne 6, Joshua Ah Yuen 2, Cole Shidaki 7, Jack Miller 15, Elliot Purcell 4, Jamison Miller 9, Jacob Barit 3.
3-point goals -- Damien 5 (Casil 2, Cerezo Jr. 2, Shiroma), Saint Louis 1 (Shidaki).

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