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Prep Football Preview Special
Brandon Ching | ScoringLiveFebruary 26, 2022, 6:46am
Fri, Feb 25, 2022 @ Moanalua
SALT LAKE—No. 4 Mililani dug deep and pulled away from No. 2 Iolani, 45-39 in overtime, in the Heide & Cook/HHSAA Division I Boys Basketball State Championships semifinals at Moanalua Friday.
Last night it was a 49-43 win over Maryknoll and tonight the Oahu Interscholastic Association champions took down a second-straight Interscholastic League of Honolulu opponent. Standing in their way for their first-ever state title is the ILH champion and top-seeded Saint Louis Crusaders.
"It feels good. To go through two ILH teams just to get here. We keep getting rewarded with a better ILH team. Now we got Saint Louis. Now I'm worried about our adrenaline and gas tank. How much fuel we have, but these boys have been resilient all year. Our boys understood that every point since we started states is going to be a good game," Mililani coach Garrett Gabriel said.
Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center following the Division II title game between Kaimuki and Maui Prep. The Raiders dropped to the third place game to face Baldwin at 1 p.m. at NBC.
"Getting to the state championship game is a dream come true for all of us. We've been working for two years since the pandemic happened and this is a reward and I'm thankful for that," J Marxen added.
J Marxen led a balanced Mililani attack with 10 points, five rebounds, Dylan Flanders had nine points, nine rebounds, and Lauvai Pine contributed seven points and eight boards.
"Jackson hit last night, Dylan, Trey, you name it. These guys have been coming up with big shots," Gabriel said.
"I'm the facilitator on my team, I drive and kick to my teammates. If one is off, we know another one will pick it up," Marxen said.
Creighton Ofsonka missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw attempt at the 1:09 mark and Aaron Claytor's turnaround jumper tied the game at 35 with 37 seconds remaining.
Marxen turned it over and fell to the floor and was tied up that gave the Raiders the ball back with 5.7 seconds remaining.
JJ Mandaquit, who finished with 13 points, six rebounds, drove the length of the floor but his potential game-winning layup attempt was no good as the game headed into overtime.
Trey Lieb who was battling cramps, swished his pair of free throws for the first points of the overtime period. Mandaquit tied the game at 37, but Jackson Mayo hit a 3-pointer from the wing and converted Lieb's pass with wide open layup in transition to put the Trojans up, 42-37.
"Our coach Joel Lane said, ‘That's who we are and that's how we play. We've been doing it all year.' At times we're like uhh, but they shoot it and make it. Organized chaos I guess," Gabriel said.
Mandaquit put back his own miss but that was the only points Iolani would score in the final 27 seconds as Flanders and Jayden Kipapa combined to make three of the team's four free throw attempts in the closing seconds.
"We tried to keep our cool, we said it's a new game," Marxen said of getting through overtime.
Iolani's swarming and trapping defense forced 13 Mililani turnovers.
"We talked about it. We have to be strong with the ball. This is big boy basketball. These guys are battle tested every week in the ILH. It's an honor to play these teams because that's where we wanted to see where we stacked up. I knew we were pretty good, but to get to this point, I'm very happy," Gabriel said.
Mililani exploded for an early 9-2 lead and held an eight point going into the second quarter.
With over two minutes to go Mandaquit's jumper brought Iolani within three however, Marxen got in the lane and gave the Trojans a 20-15 lead at halftime.
Kaimana Lau Kong knocked down free throws to open the third, but Flanders hit back-to-back buckets in the paint to extend the lead back to seven. Jump shots from Mandaquit and Claytor brought Iolani within three, but Kipapa nailed a triple from the top for a 27-21 lead.
The Raiders answered with a 6-0 run to close out the quarter. Manadquit drove it for two, Makani Tanaka hit a shot near the baseline, and Jack Jones had a steal and layup to close the quarter to deadlock the game at 27 heading into the fourth.
Mayo split his free throw attempts and Lau Kong banked in a shot and Claytor cashed in a Bailey Bumanglag steal with a triple to give Iolani their first and only lead of the game, 32-30 with under six minutes to go.
"We've lost the lead, but they showed resiliency. They believe in what we're doing and more so they believe in themselves," Gabriel said.
Marxen hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to reclaim the lead and Mayo found Ofsonka on the back side to make it, 35-32. Mandaquit made the first free throw but missed the second that eventually set up Claytor's game-tying shot.
Iolani shot 27.9 percent (17 of 61) from the field and was 2 of 20 from 3s.
Mililani went 14 of 40 (35 percent) from the floor and was 6 of 17 (35.3 percent) from the perimeter.
The Trojans won the battle of the boards, 39 to 35.
The Raiders were seeking their first state championship appearance since 2016 when they last won their 11th overall state title.
Mililani lost to Saint Louis, 63-61, in the preseason at the Jim Alegre Invitational back on Dec. 23.
"We have a great opportunity to face a great Saint Louis team, who was our only loss in the preseason. Coach Dan Hale, I respect him and he does a heck of a job," Gabriel said.
Claytor had seven points and six rebounds and Lau Kong added another double-digit rebounding performance with 10 in the loss.
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