Last season, Kahuku knocked off Punahou 70-55 to pocket the HHSAA Division I title and needed to restock its roster after losing all five starters to graduation.
No big deal for the Red Raiders, who got a dominant addition with the transfer of 6-foot-10 senior Tolu Smith, from Mississippi, who signed with Western Kentucky.
Kalaheo upset Kahuku in the OIA championship, which dropped the defending state champion into the same bracket as No. 4 seed Kamehameha-Hawaii, a team that relied on senior Nalu Kahapea all season long.
In a show of force, the Red Raiders thumped the Warriors 62-37 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at Moanalua High’s gym, outscoring Kamehameha 34-13 in the second and third quarters.
Smith scored 17 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had lots of help. Marcus Damuni, Ruanui Winitana, and Lokana Enos scored eight points each for Kahuku (14-1).
Kahapea did his part and scored 19 points, collected six boards and had two blocks, but his teammates struggled. Nakoa-Oness and the rest of the starters, Kaupena Yasso, Koby Tabuyo-Kahele, and Izayah Chartrand-Penera, combined for 10 points for Kamehameha (15-1).
Kahuku had good ball movement and shot 43 percent (16 of 37) from the field, including 7 of 18 from beyond the arc.
Kamehameha had a better shooting at 45 percent (10 of 22). However, the problem was two-fold: the Warriors were outrebounded, 34-25, limiting their possessions, and made just 3 of 16 from 3-point range.
The Warriors haven’t been to states since 2015, and it’s the fifth straight year a BIIF team hasn’t advanced to the semifinals.
In 2013, Konawaena was fourth, falling to runner-up Maryknoll, and a year earlier Kamehameha was fourth, losing to runner-up Kahuku.
Kahuku 10 17 17 18 — 62
Kamehameha 10 6 7 14 — 37
Kauai 53, No. 4 Hawaii Prep 50: Gunnar Burkman drained a 3-pointer with four seconds left to carry the Red Raiders, who’ve never reached the semifinals.
But the KIF champions are in the Final Four after rallying from a 28-19 halftime deficit and outscoring the BIIF champion Ka Makani 21-6 in the third quarter.
Burkman scored 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range. CJ Cromartie came off the bench and added 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting for Kauai (9-1).
The Red Raiders shot 45 percent (18 of 40) from the floor, including a spectacular 9 of 16 from long distance.
Freshman guard KJ Walker scored 12 points on 4 of 8 shooting while Michael Hughes came off the bench and had 11 points, and Michael Hanano added nine points for HPA (12-4), which couldn’t get a last-second shot attempt off.
Senior point guard Jonah Hurney had stellar ball-distribution with five assists and no turnovers. He added six points on 2 of 2 shooting.
The one stat that sticks out like a neon flashing light is free throws. Ka Makani went 8 of 22 (36 percent) from the line; Kauai was 8 of 9 on free throws.
No. 2 Kalani vs. Honokaa: The quarterfinal game ended after the Tribune-Herald’s deadline.
The game was moved from Kaimuki High’s gym to Iolani, and the start time was changed from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.