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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Kalani Takase | ScoringLiveNovember 22, 2018, 12:29am
Wed, Nov 21, 2018 @ Kalaheo
KAILUA — Jake Holtz scored 14 of his game-high 24 points in the first half to lead visiting Damien to the Pete Smith Classic championship with a 66-57 win over host Kalaheo Wednesday night.
The Monarchs (3-0) had three other players score in double-figures. Bryce Forbes contributed 12 points and Hayden Bayudan and Jydon Hall added 11 apiece in the win.
The Mustangs (3-1) hit eight of their 10 3-pointers after halftime. Ryan Pardini led the way with 21 points, including three triples. Robert Thompson chipped in 14 points and Aaron Baker 12 — all on 3s.
Both teams were playing their third game in as many days.
Damien was coming off a 15-point win over Campbell in Monday's first round of the tournament and a 14-point victory over reigning two-time Division II state champion Saint Francis in Tuesday's quarterfinal round.
"Really we're just trying to get better every game, so we're just trying to make sure that we're doing everything that we're supposed to do — defensively, offensively, making sure we play together — that's basically what we preach: brothers and family," Monarchs coach Alvin Stephenson said.
Holtz, a 6-foot-2 junior post, was coming off a team-high 22 points against the Sabers Monday and 13 versus the Saints Tuesday.
"Jake is a special type of player that only comes around every so often; We're lucky to have him. He's a huge piece for us with his rebounding, running the floor — he's very versatile," Stephenson said.
Kalaheo held an early 12-9 lead after a 3-pointer from the right wing by Pardini, but Damien got a putback by Holtz and a pair of free throws from Hall to take a 13-12 after the first quarter.
The Monarchs stretched it to a 22-15 advantage midway through the second quarter, but Pardini converted a three-point play to cut it to a four-point lead.
However, Damien answered on its next possession with a three-point play of its own by Forbes, which ignited a 14-5 run by the visitors. The sequence included a fast break dunk by Holtz off a bounce pass from Hall, followed by a Forbes' 3-pointer from the left corner in transition off another Hall assist.
"It was a great momentum booster for us because once we get that one play that gives us a spark it continues for us to make a run," said Holtz, who credited Hall — whose nickname is Boogie — for the feed on the dunk
"Boogie, the point guard, he turned back and he saw me running the lane and he knew I was gonna dunk it because I've been wanting that so bad, so he just dumped it off to me and I just went up and finished it," Holtz said.
Damien outscored Kalaheo 23-12 in the second quarter en route to a 36-24 lead at halftime.
Early in the third quarter, Holtz was forced to exit the game after taking an inadvertent elbow to his chin from Pardini on the defensive end of the floor.
"I tried to take a charge and then his elbow went straight into my chin," Holtz explained.
After a brief check with athletic trainers, Holtz — who is the starting quarterback on the football team — checked back in after just 35 seconds of game time. He went on to score 10 more points the rest of the way.
Stephenson quipped that Holtz defies the traditional notion of the "soft quarterback."
"He's the opposite. Jake's a very tough kid, a lot of people don't know that — he's probably one of our toughest — so when he got hit I joked with him, ‘like c'mon man, you know that little shot didn't hurt you,' and he was like, ‘OK, coach, I'm ready,' so I have a lot of fun with these guys," Stephenson said.
The Monarchs led 52-37 after three quarters and led by as many as 20 following Hall's fastbreak layup that made it 60-40 with 4:22 left to play.
The Mustangs cut it to a nine-point game after a Pardini 3-pointer and back-to-back treys by Aaron Baker with under three minutes remaining, but Damien made its final six attempts from the free-throw line to hold on.
"I'm feeling like our team is bonding together, coming closer together as a team, we're building chemistry, so I have big hopes for this season. Winning this tournament is a great confidence booster for all us going through the season and just trying to work toward that state championship," Holtz said.
Stephenson said he has high hopes for a deep postseason run in Division II this season.
"This team, on any night, any one of them can explode. I mean, we have so many weapons that I kind of just sit back this year and I just enjoy the show," Stephenson said. "It's a special group, I would say. These type of groups don't come around so often and you just gotta cherish it and enjoy the journey you go on with them and then see what happens from there."
Damien will host an eight-team tournament this weekend. It opens against Waialua at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Kalaheo is off until next Wednesday, when it takes on Lahainaluna in an opening-round matchup of the Jim Alegre Invitational at Radford.
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