On-Air Now
On-Air Now
Listen Live
, , ,

Mililani boys deny Radford, 68-52, improve to 9-0

By Wes Nakama

MILILANI — “Senior Night” could also have been a “trap game” for the Mililani boys basketball team Wednesday night, but the Trojans made sure it wasn’t as they denied visiting Radford, 68-52.

A supportive crowd of about 350 watched Timothy Dorn score a game-high 19 points, LeCedric Brown add 18 points and Roman Gabriel contribute 15 points to help Mililani improve to 9-0 in the OIA Western Division heading into Saturday’s showdown at arch rival Leilehua (9-0). Caden Williams and Dawson Calhoun each scored 18 points to lead Radford, which fell to 5-4.

The Rams started the regular season with close road losses at Campbell and Nanakuli, then ran off five straight victories before coming up just short against Leilehua, 50-48, last Friday.

“They’re scrappy, they’re a team that can give you trouble if you don’t get back on defense and guard them,” Trojans coach Garrett Gabriel said of Radford. “It’s hard, I told our bigs, ‘If you want to play against the smaller guys, you gotta be able to go out there and guard.’ So that’s the challenge, we probably had the advantage on offense, but on the defensive side we had to work really hard to cover … But overall, for the most part except for some runs, I thought we did a decent job.”

Mililani jumped out to a 15-8 lead after one period and went up, 34-23, at halftime before scoring the first three baskets of the third quarter to stretch the lead to 40-23. 

“That’s always a momentum-killer — coming out, you’re already down and then they hit a few baskets, it’s tough to battle back from that,” Rams coach Travis Armstrong said. “But my guys are resilient.”

After Radford closed it to 42-31 on Angel Garcia’s 3-pointer from the right wing midway through the third period, Gabriel answered with a layup off a nifty spin move to ignite a 16-2 run capped by his two free throws a half minute into the fourth to make it 58-33. But the Rams were not done yet, rallying for a 13-1 run that closed it to 59-49 on Isaiah Harmon’s layup with 1:34 remaining, and Calhoun hit a 3-pointer with 43 seconds left to cut it to 63-52.

The Trojans then made five of six free throws down the stretch to close out the victory.

“We were feeling good coming in tonight, we thought we had a chance to pull off the upset, but we didn’t defend well enough to be able to beat a top team,” Armstrong said. “We put ourselves into a little bit of a hole … tonight we didn’t defend like we know how to do. We just didn’t make our rotations, we didn’t play the proper help, we just didn’t do what we’re normally capable of doing.”

After the game, Mililani honored its six seniors — Keoni Reyes Huynh, Tiamu Lopa, Noah Deleon, Kainalu Ka’aihue, Lauvai Pine and Davyn Joseph — with one “final shot” for each with their family members joining them on the court.      

Garrett Gabriel said this group is very coachable and works hard, despite not having star status or even a lot of playing time.

“They just persevered,” Gabriel said. “All of them, what I love most is just the way they compete. Whenever I ask them to, they come in and give me good minutes. And aside from basketball, they’re just great kids. I’m very fortunate throughout the years to have good kids. You gotta have good basketball players, but they’re actually better people off the court. I’m hard on them, but they keep responding, keep persevering. Of course I’m gonna miss those type of kids because they might not be the most talented, but they always bring the team-first mentality to every practice, every game.”

Pine, a center who is the only senior starter, was also a starter in the 2022 state championship game against Saint Louis — the first basketball state title contest appearance in school history. He said being part of the Trojans’ history-making teams the past three seasons helped him get through the loss of his father to lung cancer five years ago.

“These are my boys, every day with them is just fun,” said Pine, who was draped in a heap of lei after taking pictures with friends and family for about 15 minutes after the Senior Night ceremony. “Things happen in life, but it’s those who are around you who bring you up. Just these boys, it’s just special, man. It’s a special team we’ve got. Mililani’s basketball program is now on the map, (but) we just gotta stay level-headed … there’s more to come, more to do.”

Photos: Lori McKeown

Mahalo to these sponsors for proudly backing Hawai’i high school sports, enabling us to continue showcasing athletes and schools here in the 808. Your support makes it all possible.