Mus­tangs Up For State Hoops

MidWeek Islander (Windward Oahu) - - Windward Oahu Sports - By JACK DANILEWICZ

His­tory has a way of re­peat­ing it­self, which is a com­fort­ing thought for the Kala­heo bas­ket­ball team as it be­gins play in the Di­vi­sion I boys state tour­na­ment this Wed­nes­day to Satur­day.

No team from the OIA has left a big­ger mark on that tour­na­ment than the Mus­tangs over the long haul. Kala­heo, af­ter all, has five state ti­tles to its credit to date — in 1985, 1995, 2001, 2012 and 2013. And it’s also been state run­nerup six times (1991, 1996,

1998, 1999, 2002 and 2004).

The greater chore now is to put last week’s OIA tour­na­ment in the rear-view mir­ror. A heart-break­ing last-minute loss to Camp­bell in the semi­fi­nals un­der­mined mo­men­tum and turned away a bid for the league ti­tle.

A clean slate awaits the Mus­tangs this week, how­ever. (Pair­ings were to be re­leased af­ter press time.) State ac­tion Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day will be at McKin­ley, with semi­fi­nals and fi­nals Fri­day and Satur­day at Blais­dell Arena. A look at the Mus­tangs is be­low. Track­ing Kala­heo Record: 24-8 over­all, in­clud­ing pre­sea­son games, 10-3 over­all for the sea­son, in­clud­ing OIA tour­na­ment, 10-1 in OIA East

Key wins: Over Wal­nut Grove 66-60 Dec. 19, over Moanalua 52-48 Jan. 2, over Kailua 56-37 Jan. 10, over Far­ring­ton 58-54 Jan. 17

Did you know?: Kala­heo has a 4-1 record in games de­cided by four points or less.

Mus­tangs at a glance: Fans who thought this would be a re­build­ing year quickly found out other­wise, as the Mus­tangs have been more in re-group mode af­ter heavy losses to grad­u­a­tion left them with a largely un­proven ros­ter. Head coach Alika Smith and the team have merely picked up where they left off fol­low­ing last year’s Di­vi­sion I state ti­tle run (which marked their sec­ond straight state cham- pi­o­nship af­ter win­ning the DII ti­tle the year be­fore). At the fore­front of its suc­cess has been the steady play of ju­nior Ku­paa Har­ri­son. His lead­er­ship has fig­ured big for a team that was con­sid­ered young and in­ex­peri- enced. Har­ri­son is cur­rently av­er­ag­ing 18.7 points per game, but even his sta­tis­tics don’t re­veal his full con­tri­bu­tions to this team, as his de­fen­sive play and ma­tu­rity have been equally huge.

Above all, he plays his best in big games, as the rest of the OIA has found out. His 30-point show­ing last week ver­sus Camp­bell in the OIA tour­ney semi­fi­nals was his high­est scor­ing sea­son to­tal, and he had av­er­aged 23 points per game over his last four out­ings, head­ing into the OIA’s third­place game late last week.

The key, how­ever, is tied to the play of his sup­port­ing cast: up-and-com­ers Kekai Smith (12.8 points per game, 12 three-pointers) and Zach Mar­rotte (7.1 ppg). With ev­ery op­po­nent mak­ing Har- ri­son the fo­cal point of their de­fen­sive ef­forts, the play of both Smith and Mar­rotte will be big for the Mus­tangs this week as they pur­sue a third straight state ti­tle.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.