Sabers’ Bball Defense Lands Them In State Championships

For the Campbell boys basketball team, no week has been more anticipated than this one, as it makes a second straight appearance at the 2015 state basketball championships.

The Sabers are fresh off last week’s OIA tournament, where they were preparing to play McKinley in the fifth-place game.

As is the case for all 12 teams this week, the state tourney offers a clean slate.

It runs Wednesday-Saturday, the first two days at either McKinley or Moanalua, the final two at UH’s Stan Sheriff Center.

A look at Campbell’s prospects is below.

Tracking the Campbell Sabers

Record: 15-7 overall, including preseason games, heading into last Thursday’s game against McKinley (9-1, second place in the West)

Key wins: over Pearl City 48-40 Jan. 7, over Mililani 41-29 Jan. 9, over Mililani 46-37 Feb. 17

How they got here (OIA Red tournament recap): Lost to Farrington 60-55 in OIA quarterfinals, defeated Mililani in the consolation semifinals to clinch a state berth.

What to watch: Campbell made the semifinals of the Division I state tournament last February, eventually finishing fourth, equaling the highest finish ever for a Saber team.

The current team, coached by Wyatt Tau, also has asserted itself with a nine-game win streak to begin the season.

Back-to-back losses to Leilehua in the OIA West season finale and to Farrington in the OIA quarterfinals undermined Campbell’s momentum to a degree, but it bounced back in impressive fashion in the win over Mililani, clinching a berth at states.

Defensive play has been its forte, as the team held 10 of its last 12 opponents to under 41 points.

On offense, you won’t find a single Campbell player listed among the top 25 OIA scorers.

Instead, the Sabers have relied on their balance and ability to share the ball, finding the scoring needed among a talented rotation that includes Mike Merchant (10.9 points per game), Lamart Dudley (10.2 ppg), David Marrero (6.9), Jomar Jett Gapusan (8.3) and Alika and Jayce Bantolina.

Dudley averaged 7.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in four state tournament games last season.

Sabers in the state tournament: This will be Campbell’s sixth trip to states since HHSAA went to a two-division format in 2007.