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Kahuku pulls away from Kaimuki, 64-44, improves to 9-0

Kahuku pulls away from Kaimuki, 64-44, improves to 9-0

By Wes Nakama

Taking care of business in the second half at Kapahulu while Kalaheo took care of Kailua on the Windward side, the Kahuku boys basketball team pulled away from Kaimuki, 64-44, Friday night to take sole possession of first place in the OIA East. 

Point guard Tiki Akina-Watson and forward Kache Kaio each scored 10 points as the Red Raiders improved to 9-0 in league play. Kalaheo knocked off visiting Kailua, 61-47, to make both teams tied for second at 7-1. Kaimuki, which is classified as Division II, fell to 5-3.

The Bulldogs were missing their leading scorer, Jeremiah White, due to his participation in the Polynesian Bowl football game. but they overcame early deficits of 12-2 and 16-6 and closed out the second period with a 6-2 surge to close it to 23-20 at the break. But Kahuku opened the second half with a 13-2 run built mostly on a transition game and capped by Akina-Watson’s two free throws with 3:11 remaining in the third period to push the lead to 36-22.

“We got sloppy (in the second period),” Red Raiders coach Brandyn Akana said. “I told them after playing a good game our last game (a 65-52 home victory against Kalaheo on Wednesday), to come here, it’s going to be tough. I told them we just had to play our game, and at times, we didn’t do that. We were kind of selfish — one pass, shot up, took bad shots.

“But after that, we kind of moved the ball and you could see how it worked. And I thought our defense got better, and that lends itself to a lot of offense, layups and stuff.”

Kaimuki got as close as 56-42 on Duy Pham’s 3-pointer from the left wing with 3:08 remaining in the game, but Ikaika Lauano sank two free throws with 2:19 left to make it 58-42 and effectively seal the victory.

“The goal was to stay close and give us an opportunity at the end, but Kahuku was just too tough,” Bulldogs coach Greydon Espinda said. “They love to run, they’re big … They’re changing their culture to basketball and they look like basketball players. So it’s a credit to them, they just suffocated our offense. We didn’t shoot well tonight, but it’s a tribute to Kahuku’s defense, their length and size, and they contested every shot we could get. They’re the biggest team we’ve played.”

The Red Raiders now have a bye on Wednesday, giving them extra time to prepare for the regular season finale at home against Kailua on Friday.

“It’s Senior Night, too, so that’s going to be a big one for us,” Akana said.

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