Thursday, February 2, 2023 | By: Wes Nakama
After waiting 60 years for its first OIA Boys Basketball Championship … what’s another four minutes?
Campbell needed the extra period Wednesday night but then quickly took control of it to surge past Mililani and win, 50-45, for the school’s first league hoops title since opening its ‘Ewa Beach doors in 1962-63.
A raucous and noisy crowd of about 700 at Radford’s Jim Alegre Gymnasium watched Mizah Carreira score a game-high 21 points and Miles Hornage add 12 points as the Sabers improved to 23-5 overall and 12-1 in the OIA. They also earned the league’s top seed and first-round bye in next week’s state tournament.
Creighton Ofsonka scored 15 points and Jayfen Kipapa added 12 points for the Trojans, who fell to 18-4 and 12-1. Mililani will begin play in Monday’s first round against an opponent and at a site to be announced soon.
“This is our third time we ever went to the OIA championship (game), and finally — third time is the charm,” Campbell coach Wyatt Tau said. “We wouldn’t have done this without a lot of help from our administrators, our principal, ADs, teachers, and just a lot of people who put in so much work with our kids … and weight-lifting in the morning was a big plus for us. Two times a week, whether we just pau play one game, the next morning they go to work, these guys still showed up — nobody was absent. I mean, that’s how bad these guys wanted it, they knew how special this team was. And I’m just glad to be a part of this great bunch of kids.”
The Sabers closed out the first period with a 7-0 run to lead 9-6 entering the second, but Lecedric Brown scored on a layup to ignite a 15-4 surge highlighted by Ofsonka’s 11 points to push the Trojans ahead, 21-13, with 4:46 remaining in the half. Mililani took a 26-20 lead into the break, then used a 9-2 run early in the third period to go up, 35-25, after Timothy Dorn’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with three minutes remaining in the quarter.
But 20 seconds later, Rondell Blenman-Villarreal scored on a layup to start a 13-2 run capped by Carreira’s mid-range jumper to give Campbell the lead back briefly at 38-37 with 6:16 left in regulation.
“They’re a hell of a team, they have size, skill,” Trojans coach Garrett Gabriel said of the Sabers. “So we needed to play well the whole game, but unfortunately we didn’t do that. They started to be a little more aggressive, and they made the plays when they had to. We didn’t. So hat’s off to them, they’re a good team.”
The Sabers went up, 42-39, on Josh Ellis’ short baseline jumper with 3:25 left, but Mililani tied it on another Dorn 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:06 remaining. That’s how it stayed, at 42-42, as Campbell held for the last shot and missed with five seconds left, and the Trojans could only get a halfcourt attempt at the regulation buzzer.
The Sabers scored the first two baskets of overtime, but J Marxen drained a 3-pointer from the right wing to close it to 46-45 with 1:04 showing on the clock. But that would be it for Mililani, as Ellis swished two free throws with 26.4 seconds remaining and the Trojans misfired on the other end. Hornage then sealed the victory with two free throws at 2.3 ticks left.
“We just had to leave it all out on the floor and make it worth all the hard work we put in,” said Carreira, a senior guard. “It’s amazing, it feels great. I know all our boys deserve this, because we worked super hard. Our coach kept letting us know that we belong here, so don’t waste the (opportunity), because we have it right here.”
Photos: Jonathan Salvador
Mahalo to City Mill for sponsoring our high school basketball photo gallery and for supporting local sports in Hawaii.