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Prep Football Preview Special
Prep Football Preview
Game of the Week
Michael Lasquero | ScoringLiveDecember 3, 2022, 11:27pm
Sat, Dec 3, 2022 @ Kailua
This one was a tale of two halves.
Iolani built a commanding 17-point lead at halftime before staving off a fourth quarter rally by host Kailua for a 64-50 win in the Surfrider Holiday Classic championship game Saturday night at Harry Murai Gymnasium.
The Raiders (7-0), who led by as many as 22 points in the game, were led by double-digit scoring performances from junior Taniela Taliauli and sophomore Kaimana Lau Kong with 16 and 14 points respectively.
Taliauli, a standout receiver on the football team, provided hustle and energy to stuff the stat sheet with a made triple, four rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. Lau Kong, a 6-foot-6 infielder that gave a verbal commitment to play baseball for the University of Hawaii earlier in the year, controlled the boards with 16 rebounds while dishing out three assists.
"They bring a physical nature, a little bit of swag to our team," Iolani coach Ryan Hirata said of the multi-sport duo. "They're likable guys and they work hard."
Iolani's largest lead of the night was 49-27 at the 3:04 mark of the third quarter before the Surfriders (8-2) started their comeback bid.
Kailua freshman Dylan Kunz was the man of the hour for the home team, knocking a triple to end the third quarter and back-to-back 3-pointers in the first minute of the fourth to prompt an Iolani timeout with the score reading 49-38. The Surfriders' defense also rose to the task and held the Raiders without a made field goal until there was 2:41 left to play in regulation.
The home team got within five points on two occasions, when Kunz sank three consecutive free throws to get it to 53-48 and when Noa Donnelly had a euro-step to make it 55-50 with 1:51 left to play, but the Raiders scored the final nine points of the night to put the game away.
Hirata said the biggest takeaway for his team from the game was that they needed to value possessions.
"I think we got a little bit rattled when things started getting a little loud in here and they ended up hitting a couple of threes, but this is good for us. We got to learn how to close games. We got to learn how to extend leads and play with it. Credit to Kailua. They did not quit. They kept coming and coming and coming and that's just great preseason basketball for both teams."
What made the Surfriders' comeback impressive was that they did with senior all-star guard Jonny Philbrick on the bench for majority of the second half after sitting with his fourth foul at the 4:57 mark of the third quarter.
Kunz finished with 15 points and four made treys, Donnelly had a double-double of 12 points and 10 boards and freshman Maddox Pung added 10 points with a team-high three assists to go with Philbrick's nine points.
"Jonny is going to be keyed on all year and that was good for us to get some other guys involved," said Kailua coach Wally Marciel. "Iolani did a good job defensively getting us out of our offensive sets in the first half, but the second half we moved the ball and were cutting a lot better and the end result is we came back in the game."
Iolani used a 10-0 run to take the lead in the first quarter and scored on a triple before the period ended to take a 20-12 lead after the first eight minutes. Sixth-man Kyle Koga scored eight points with two made treys and had an assist in that stretch.
The Raiders' lead continued to grow in the first half with an 11-2 run to start the second quarter that was highlighted by 6-foot-4 reserve junior forward Luke Tobin's one-handed dunk.
"Whether you start or come off the bench for us, everybody has a job, everybody has a role that they play," Hirata said on the bench contributions in the first half. "The bench, you expect energy to come off of it and they've been doing that for us, especially since our starters play heavy minutes, we expect our bench guys to come in and give us a boost, and we expect that moving forward."
Both teams will play at Moanalua next week in the OIA-ILH challenge with games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Fittingly, the two squads have a scheduled rematch at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday.
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