By: Wes Nakama
KAILUA — In an intense rematch between Windward crosstown rivals, Kailua raced past visiting Kalaheo, 64-52, Friday night to advance to Monday’s OIA boys basketball semifinals.
A crowd of about 350 at Harry Murai Gym watched Jonny Philbrick score a game-high 24 points and Maddox Pung add 11 points as the Surfriders improved to 20-4 overall and 11-0 in league play. Jaron Gilmore scored 20 points and CJ Bostic added 17 points for the Mustangs, who fell to 11-12 and 7-5, and into Monday’s fifth-place bracket elimination game.
Kailua will face Campbell at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the first of a semifinal doubleheader at Radford. Leilehua will square off against Mililani in the 7:30 p.m. nightcap. Both games will be televised live statewide on Spectrum OC16.
The Surfriders were dominant through most of the OIA Eastern Division season, winning seven straight games by at least 17 points after opening with a 63-61 victory over Kahuku. That included a 73-55 victory over Kalaheo on Dec. 22. Then in its last two regular season games, Kailua got past Kaiser, 46-38, and Roosevelt, 45-44.
“We want those close games to prepare us,” Surfriders coach Wally Marciel said. “I mean, going into the OIA playoffs, man, you’re not going to blow out teams by 20 or 30 points. We wanted close games, and tonight was another close game. We didn’t do well at the free throw line (10 for 21), and we’ll work on that at practice tomorrow. But I tip my hat off to Kalaheo, those two players that they got are awesome players and they work hard, and they get to the foul line a whole bunch of times. And that changes the game.”
Things also changed for Kailua when starting post Noa Donnelly picked up his second foul with 3:28 remaining in the first period and was sent to the bench.
But after Bostic scored on a layup to cut the Surfriders’ lead to 14-13, Pung swished a baseline jumper to ignite a 7-2 run to close out the first quarter at 21-15. Kailua then scored six of the first seven points of the second period to lead, 27-16, on Pung’s putback with 4:39 remaining.
Kalaheo cut it to 31-24 on Pierce O’Brien’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 52 seconds remaining, but Philbrick answered with a jumper 19 seconds later to make it 33-24 at halftime.
“Our defensive effort tonight wasn’t up to the level we need it to be for playoff basketball,” Mustangs coach Rob Parini said. “We didn’t defend well enough, especially on the defensive glass. They got a lot of offensive rebounds in the first half, and that gave them a cushion.”
Hunter Darnell’s putback one minute into the third period closed it to 35-28, but Philbrick responded with a layup to start a 12 -2 run capped by his 3-pointer from the left corner to stretch the lead to 47-30 with 2:47 left in the quarter. Kalaheo could not get closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Philbrick, who entered the night averaging 22 points per game, had eight in the first half but the Surfriders’ offense did not skip a beat.
“Our coaches say, ‘Jon’s gonna be focused on, so next guy up, we gotta step up,’ ” said Philbrick, a senior guard. “Even though our team is young, I feel like these guys are (playing) at senior level, as freshmen. I feel like everyone stepped up.”
Mahalo to City Mill for sponsoring our high school basketball photo gallery and for supporting local sports in Hawaii.