Open Mic
Williams sparked Surfriders in OIA opener




Kailua's Kaniala Williams wasn't feeling too good to end 2018.

However, the start of 2019 has treated Williams much better.

The senior guard provided a spark off the bench in Kailua's season-opening 58-52 win over host Kahuku Wednesday night as he was the Surfriders' second-leading scorer with 11 points.

But it was his defense were Williams made the most impact. The 6-foot-1 senior garnered a game-high six steals in a contest where Kailua racked up 13 total steals.

Kailua trailed by as many as seven points in the second quarter — 23 to 16 — but the play of Williams helped the Surfriders take a 28-25 lead at the break.

Williams read the passing lane well in the back court to pick up a steal that led to a three-point play to bring Kailua within one, 25-24. He also found Lydell Romero wide-open under the basket on a baseline inbounds play for the final basket of the first half.

"Kaniala, he's a motivator," said Kailua coach Wally Marciel. "He was not feeling well last week so we kept him out for a little while just to get him back, but he's our guy off the bench by far. He brings that spark, that speed."

Kailua's Kaniala Williams gets back on defense.

Williams also played extensively in the second half as the Surfriders shortened their rotation with Williams, Romero, Isaiah Hopson, Nainoa Peters and Everett Torres-Kahapea all playing at least 15 second-half minutes, if not the entire half.

This allowed Kailua to operate out of its spread offense with Torres-Kahapea, the game's leading-scorer with 21 points, handling the ball up top. The Surfriders were more methodical and patient in the second half, waiting for teams to press up on Torres-Kahapea before attacking. When the Red Raiders did extend their defense, Torres-Kahapea was able to beat any single defender on the perimeter and either score or dish it off when the defense collapses on him.

"We're getting a one-on-one matchup with Everett is what we're doing," said Marciel. "That's our spread offense, it's not a stall, and it frees him up to make decisions."

Kahuku would not go down quietly into the night however as the game featured eight lead changes and eight ties. A pair of corner treys by Kahuku's Lokana Enos gave the Red Raiders' their first lead of the second half, 34-32.

Romero tied the game on the next possession, but Kahuku regained the lead after a pair of Ethan Erickson free throws. Williams then had a putback to tie the game before getting another basket to give Kailua a 38-36 lead.

Kailua's Kaniala Williams works the ball around Kahuku's Shon Reid in the fourth quarter.

The two teams were tied at 42 entering the fourth quarter and later at 44 two minutes in to the period. Kailua took the lead for good on Torres-Kahapea's up-and-under, but it was the next score that deflated the home team. Williams disrupted the Red Raiders' offense after they crossed half court and took the loose ball all the way to the cup to give Kailua a 48-44 lead, forcing a Kahuku timeout with 5:39 left in regulation.

"The defense was intense," said Torres-Kahapea. "Kaniala stepped up big, got a couple of steals. All the hard work is paying off right now."

After Kahuku failed to score out of the timeout, Torres-Kahapea assisted on a Hopson field goal to extend Kailua's lead to six to give the Surfriders a two-possession cushion. The Red Raiders got within three points with 1:32 remaining in the game, but a Torres-Kahapea basket and free throws by Williams made it a 57-50 game with 26.4 seconds left.

"Go hard as you can the last 16 minutes of the game and the outcome showed with a win," Torres-Kahapea said on the team's second-half mindset.

Kailua continues OIA East play Friday night when it hosts Anuenue.



Reach Michael Lasquero at [email protected].


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