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Leilehua boys clip Mililani, 49-48, for first OIA title since 1988

By Wes Nakama

Trystin Stevens swished a 3-pointer from the left corner with 6.8 seconds remaining Wednesday night to lift Leilehua over Mililani, 49-48, for its first OIA boys basketball championship since 1988.

A tense and vocal crowd of about 650 at McKinley’s Student Council Gym watched Twain Wilson score a game-high 25 points with nine rebounds, four assists and two steals and brother Tyree Wilson add 10 points and two steals to help the Mules improve to 20-4 overall and finish league play at 12-1. Leilehua now owns the OIA’s top seed and first-round bye in next week’s state tournament.

Photo: Lori McKeown

Timothy Dorn scored a team-high 20 points and had game-highs of 11 boards and seven blocks, and Roman Gabriel added 10 points and four rebounds for the Trojans, who fell to 21-5 and 12-1. Mililani will begin state tournament play on Monday by playing host to Kalaheo.

After Stevens’ 3-pointer, the Trojans called timeout and had 5.1 seconds remaining for their last possession. They advanced the ball quickly and got it to Dorn, who dribbled to the top of the key and took a 3-pointer while drifting to his left, and the ball glanced off the rim as time expired.

Stevens said even he wasn’t expecting to take his winning shot, since the play was not designed for him.

“Not really,” said Stevens, who had only scored four points prior to that play. “I got the ball, I gave it to Twain, I saw that he was double-teamed so I slipped out (to the corner). I was open, I took the shot. I knew it was going in.”

The thrilling finish capped an exciting game that was entertaining literally from the first basket — a backdoor alley-oop slam dunk by Dorn off of Ezekiel Virtudes’ lob — until the final horn. After a tight opening period, Mililani used a 9-0 run capped by Gabriel’s free throw to go up, 22-13, with 1:29 remaining in the half. Twain Wilson then drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key 22 seconds later to cut it to 22-16 at the break, and the Mules closed to 22-20 a minute into the second half after a jumper by Stevens and Twain Wilson’s steal and coast-to-coast layup.

The Trojans opened the lead back up to 30-22 after Gabriel’s layup with 4:45 left in the third period, but Twain Wilson’s 3-pointer 20 seconds later ignited a stunning 20-4 run culminating in Chaysen Montayre’s 3-point bank shot from the right wing 24 seconds into the fourth quarter to put Leilehua ahead, 42-34. Mililani then answered with a 7-0 surge to close it to 42-41 on Dorn’s three-point play with 5:35 remaining.

Photo: Lori McKeown

After Stevens swished a jumper from the right baseline to push the lead to 46-41 with 4:46 left, the Trojans responded with Gabriel’s free throw and back-to-back layups by Dorn to tie it at 46-46 with 2:11 remaining. Mililani then took a 48-46 lead on Virtudes’ driving layup with 38 seconds on the clock, only to see the Mules go back in front for good on Stevens’ clutch 3-point jumper with 6.8 ticks left.

Leilehua coach Chad Townsend said although the final play was not designed for Stevens, he had confidence in the 6-foot-4 junior making the shot.

“My thing is, next man up sometimes, you always gotta be ready to shoot,” Townsend said. “I try not to put too much of a cap on our guys. Keep that confidence — if you’re open, take the shot.”

Trojans coach Garrett Gabriel said the Mules deserve credit for coming through when it counted most.

“They just made the plays when they had to,” Gabriel said. “They did a good job.”

The last time Leilehua won an OIA championship, future New York Jets running back Adrian Murrell was their shooting guard. And the last time the Mules won a state championship — 51 years ago — they were coached by Townsend’s father, Richard.

“It feels unreal, just ‘cuz you could see (Wahiawa) is such a great community,” Chad Townsend said. “(They) support to the end, the students all came out. I just can’t be more appreciative, we have great support staff at our school, administration, everybody. It feels great.”

Photos: Lori McKeown

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