Kahuku, Kalaheo Battle-tested For State Hoops Tourney

As Kahuku and Kalaheo prepared for this week’s boys basketball state championships, two things were certain: Both already are well-seasoned from the ultra-competitive OIA tournament last week, and both advanced to the post-season semifinals.

The Red Raiders moved on to last Thursday night’s championship game, while the Mustangs battled for third place following their semifinal loss to Farrington.

This week’s state tournament runs Wednesday-Saturday, offering a fresh slate for both schools. Wednesday’s first rounds and Thursday’s quarterfinal round will be played at either McKinley or Moanalua. The tournament shifts to UH’s Stan Sheriff Center for Friday’s semi-finals and Saturday’s championship.

A look at the state prospects for Kahuku and Kalaheo is below.

Kahuku Red Raiders

Record: 16-3 overall, including preseason games, heading into last Thursday’s OIA Red title game against Farrington, which was 10-1 in the season and second place in the East.

Key wins: over Farrington 55-39 at home Jan. 3, over Moanalua 56-44 away Jan. 21, over Kaiser 61-45 at home Feb. 4, over Leilehua 48-30 Feb. 17.

How they got here (OIA Red tournament recap): Defeated McKinley 78-29 in the quarterfinals, defeated Leilehua in the semifinals.

Tracking the 2014-15 Red Raiders: Kahuku’s win streak reached 11 last week when it beat Leilehua in the OIA semifinals, thus earning a spot in last Thursday’s championship game against Farrington. (The Red Raiders’ lone loss was Jan. 7 to East season champion Kalaheo 62-56 on the road.)

Offensive balance has been a Kahuku strength, as four players are averaging in double figures: Denhym Brooke (13.6 points per game), Hyrum Harris (12.4 ppg), Keanu Akina (11.4) and Samuta Avea (10.8).

On defense, it’s playing perhaps its best basketball all season, holding its last four opponents to an average of 35 points per outing. The team limited Leilehua to just nine total points after intermission in their semifinal game, breaking what had been a tight game wide open.

State tournament history: The Red Raiders have three Division “A” state titles to their credit (1971, 1973 and 1974) and also have been a state runner-up in 2005, 2009 and 2012.

Kalaheo Mustangs

State tournament history: Kalaheo has won five state titles (1985, 1995, 2001, 2013 and 2014). It also has been a state runner-up six times (1991, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2004).

2014-15 Record: 26-3 overall, including preseason games, heading into last Thursday’s OIA third-place game against Leilehua (11-0 in the season, first place in East)

Key wins: over Kahuku 62-56 at home Jan. 7, over Farrington 52-38 on the road Jan. 21, over Moanalua 67-52 at home Feb. 6.

How they got here (OIA Red tournament recap): Defeated Mililani 60-32 in the quarterfinals Feb. 14, lost to Farrington 60-58 in overtime in the semi-finals.

Tracking the 2014-15 Mustangs: Although Kalaheo saw its 16-game win streak (including preseason) ended by Farrington in last week’s OIA semi-finals, it still has a larger prize to play for, as the team seeks its third state crown in four years.

Should it position itself to be in the mix for a title again, it will have to do it largely on the defensive end, which has been a strength in 2014-15. Kalaheo is yielding 42.8 points per game over its last 13 contests. The 60 points given up to Farrington in last week’s OIA game was the highest output registered against Kalaheo this season.

Much of the damage was done at the charity stripe, where Farrington attempted 29 free throws. With that in mind, the Mustangs will need to play cleaner this week and avoid accumulating fouls. Offensively, seniors Kaleb Gilmore and Kupaa Harrison have been among the state’s most capable scorers, as they are averaging 18.2 and 14.2 points, respectively. Gilmore also has converted 35 three-pointers, dating back to preseason. The rotation also features Zach Marrotte, Alec MacLeod (9.1 ppg) and Jalen and Kekai Smith (7.0).