Campbell Has A Shot At Capturing State Basketball Title

You have to go back to 1989 to find the last time a West Oahu team captured a boys state basketball title. The Radford Rams accomplished that feat under then-head coach James Alegre.

If any West team has a chance to break through, it might be Campbell, which had lost only one game since Jan. 1, heading into last Thursday’s OIA Red tournament title game against Farrington.

Pairings for this week’s Division I state tournament, running Wednesday-Saturday, were to be released after press time. Wednesday’s and Thursday’s action will be at McKinley, with the semi-finals and finals Friday and Saturday at Blaisdell Arena. A preview of Campbell is below.

Tracking the Sabers Record: 17-9 overall, including preseason games, 11-1 versus OIA opponents, including the season and conference tournaments

Key wins: Over Mililani 79-72 in overtime Jan. 28, over Leilehua 41-40 Feb. 6, over Kalaheo 60-59 in the OIA tournament semifinals Feb. 12

Did you know: The Sabers are among the state’s best at winning the close ones, having compiled a 5-0 record to date in games decided by four points or less. Campbell also owns a 2-0 record in overtime games.

Key question: Can they go further in the state tourney than any Campbell team has gone before? The team’s lone Final Four appearance was in 2005, when it finished fourth.

Sabers at a glance: You have to hand it to head coach Wyatt Tau and his players for the poise they displayed in recovering from an early 15-0 deficit versus defending state champion Kalaheo last week in the OIA tournament semifinal.

The Sabers’ riveting 59-58 win, which was secured on Gilbert Dayanan’s last-second tip-in, has to rate among the proud program’s greatest wins. It also lifted Campbell into the OIA championship game versus Farrington.

Can the Sabers keep the momentum going? That is the key question, and all signs are they can.

Indeed, no team in this week’s tournament field has been on more of a roll since January than the Sabers, who had won 11 of their last 12 games heading into last Thursday’s OIA title game.

There can be no doubt that Dayanan is the inspirational leader, given his ability to finish big in big games. In addition to putting Campbell over the top against Kalaheo, Dayanan also had a buzzer-beater five days earlier to drive the Sabers across the finish line in their 41-40 quarterfinal win over a good Leilehua team. Dayanan’s late-game heroics aside, overall balance has carried Campbell to date.

In addition to Dayanan (11.6 points per game), the Sabers also feature capable scorers in Michael Merchant (8.9 ppg), Isaac Hurd (8.7) and Lamart Dudley (7.1).

Perimeter shooting has been one of Campbell’s strengths to date, as Hurd (14), Dayanan (13) and Merchant (13) have all proved to be deep threats.

Email Jack Danilewicz at jackster.1969@