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(Sat) March 7, 2009

HHSAA Division I BOYS BASKETBALL: Kamehameha Halts Kahuku, Claims Division I Hoops Crown

By Kyle Galdeira

The state boys basketball title last called Kamehameha home in 1992.

But thanks in part to senior guard Pi‘i Minns’ game-high 20 points, the top-seeded Warriors brought the hardware back to Kapalama Heights with a 47-45 victory over second-seeded Kahuku in the championship game of the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Boys Basketball Division I State Championships tonight before a raucous crowd at the Blaisdell Arena.

Kamehameha sophomore Micah Christenson chipped in 11 points and teammate Auwae DeRego hauled in eight rebounds as the Warriors claimed their sixth state basketball crown in school history.

The Warriors (22-3) got out to a 7-3 lead to start the contest, thanks in part to a three pointer from Pi‘i Minns. The Warriors held tough on the defensive end, forcing Kahuku into numerous heavily-contested shots.

But the Red Raiders (24-3) roared back, and with 1:16 remaining in the first period, Nehoa Akina floated in a lay up to bring Kahuku within a point of the lead, 10-9.

The Warriors received two free throws from DeRego to go up 12-9, and the Red Raiders held for a final shot but could not convert, and ended the quarter down by three.

After Kahuku notched the score at 13, Minns drained another trey, giving Kamehameha the advantage once again. Minns then added a floating runner with 3:07 to play in the first half that put the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion Warriors up 18-13.

Following two Kahuku free throws, Christenson and Minns each converted short-range baskets to give Kamehameha a 22-15 advantage with 2:32 remaining in the second quarter.

The swarming Warriors defensive unit prohibited the Red Raiders from scoring again in the half, and the blue-and-white clad squad took its seven point lead into the locker room at halftime. Kamehameha held Kahuku to 13 percent shooting from field goal range in the half, and out-rebounded the Red Raiders 20-14 through two quarters.

The Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Red Raiders chipped away at the deficit, and with just over two minutes to play in the third period, Jray Galeai swished a three pointer from the corner to pull Kahuku within one point of the lead, 28-27.

On the ensuing possession, Akina drew a foul and hit both free throws to put Kahuku up by a point. But Blake Viena answered with two free throws to put the Warriors back on top by one. Shairone Thompson added a lay up with just seconds remaining in the third to see-saw Kahuku back into the lead, 31-30, heading into the fourth period.

Akina hit a three to start the fourth quarter, and put Kahuku up by four early on. But Christenson answered with a short-range jumper to pull the Warriors within two. After Irwin Ah Hoy hit a free throw to put Kahuku up 37-34, Minns drew a foul on the other end of the court, hit both shots, and brought Kamehameha to within a point.

Kona Schwenke put Kahuku back up by three with two more free throws. But, Minns again went to the charity stripe, but missed both shots. Minns redeemed himself with a breakaway lay up following a missed Kahuku shot, and again moved the Warriors within a point of the lead.

After Galeai hit a free throw for Kahuku, Kamehameha took the ball with less than three minutes remaining in the game and Minns nailed a clutch jumper to tie the contest at 40. After trading baskets, the Warriors set up a play with 1:30 remaining in the contest that ended with Minns driving into the lane for a lay up to put Kamehameha ahead 44-42. Minns then grabbed the rebound on Kahuku’s ensuing missed basket. Chaz Bajet proceeded to draw a foul for Kamehameha, and hit one of two free throws to put the Warriors up by three.

After another unsuccessful Kahuku shot attempt, Christenson was fouled and went to the line with 15.1 seconds remaining and a chance to widen the lead. The sophomore hit one of two shots, but Kahuku turned to Ah Hoy who knocked down a three pointer to cut the deficit to 46-45 with 5.2 seconds to play.

Following a timeout, the Warriors inbounded the ball to DeRego, who drew a foul with 3.8 seconds left in the game, and hit one of two shots. Trailing 47-45, the Red Raiders turned to Akina whose game-winning shot attempt sailed well wide of the basket, and Kamehameha held on for the win.

Minns’ performance led to his being named tournament most outstanding player, while Christenson also earned a slot on the squad.

Akina led the way for Kahuku with 12 points on the evening and earned a spot on the all-tournament team, while Schwenke grabbed eight rebounds—four on each end of the court.