HHSAA Boys Basketball
Campbell claws past Kahuku to face Maryknoll in semifinals


Wed, Feb 8, 2023 @ McKinley

Final 1 2 3 4  
Kahuku (11-2, 21-5) 12 712940
Campbell (12-1, 25-6) 11 11 12 943
R. Blenman-Villarreal 9 pts  1/3 FTs
M. Akina-Watson 11 pts  7/9 FTs
R. Blenman-Villarreal 8 tot  8 def
L. Ah You 20 tot  8 off  12 def
M. Hornage 5 ast
K. Kaio 5 ast

It was ugly, but a win is a win.

Mason Muaau hit a clutch free throw and blocked a potential game-tying 3-pointer to help fifth-ranked and second-seeded Campbell hold off Kahuku, 43-40, in the quarterfinals of the Heide & Cook/HHSAA Division I Boys Basketball State Championships at McKinley's Student Council Gymnasium.

The Sabers claw their way to the semifinal round to face No. 2 Maryknoll at Moanalua at 5 p.m. That game will be followed by top-ranked and seeded Saint Louis taking on Moanalua in the night cap.

Despite an off night, Campbell finished 17 of 36 (47.2 percent) from the field but was 2-for-10 from the 3-point line. The Sabers finished 7-for-15 (46.6 percent) from the free throw line and was 2-for-6 in the final three minutes.

Campbell turned the ball over 13 times and racked up 19 personal fouls. 

"We played terrible. Hats off to Kahuku, doing a hell of a job on why we played so terrible. I'm glad to get the win. No matter how the win comes, a win is a win," Campbell coach Wyatt Tau said.

No Campbell player cracked double figures in scoring but Rondell Blenman-Villarreal led the way with nine points and eight rebounds. Mizah Carreira followed up with 8 points despite foul trouble and three Sabers scored seven in the win.

Carreira drained a 3-pointer from the corner and Mason Muaau hit a pair of free throws to put Campbell ahead, 39-31. Akina-Watson scored the next five points that included a 3-point play to bring the Red Raiders within three.

"I told him, he had four fouls. I don't care how many fouls you get. I don't need you on the bench, I need you to play smart defense. If you get that foul, you have to get it in a good way and not waste it on a tacky-tack fouls," Tau said of Carreira.

Carreira was fouled but could not complete the and-one and Royson Dacuycuy split a pair of free throws for a 42-38 lead with 53.5 seconds left. Akina-Watson's four free throws kept Kahuku within striking distance with 45.9 seconds remaining.

Blenman-Villarreal missed the front-end of the one-and-one giving it back to Kahuku. Akina-Watson's layup was no good and Ah You could not get his putback to fall and Muaau grabbed the board and was fouled. He made the first but missed the second to put Campbell up, 43-40, with over 18 seconds left.

"Mason is one of our best free throw shooters. We challenge them at the end of practice when they're tired and you need to make them or you're running. You feel the pressure, you miss or the whole team runs. Tonight, we made the ones we needed to," Tau said.

The Red Raiders advanced it and got it to Kahler Vendiola in the corner, but Muaau blocked the 3-point attempt and ran the remaining time off the clock for the win.

"Smart play on him. We told him that his problem, he jumps into players. We wanted him to jump vertical. When you jump vertical you won't foul nobody. Today he was smart enough to stay vertical and he got the block. He got em and we got to take what we can. Hats off to Kahuku, they brought it," Tau said.

Mystique Akina-Watson led all scorers with 11 points and shot a team-best 7-for-9 from the free throw line. 

Campbell lost at Kahuku, 51-49 on Dec. 5 and returned the favor and beat the Red Raiders in the Kalaheo Tournament, 56-40 back on Dec. 13. Kahuku dominated Konawaena, 52-35 in the opening round of the state tournament to set up a third meeting. 

Kahuku dominated the glass, out-rebounding Campbell, 32 to 23 led by Leonard Ah You's 20 rebound performance. Eight of Ah You's 20 boards were offensive.

"Coach Tuli (Tafai) kept telling them they had to box out. Leonard was unbelievable and that's why he's going to Oregon State on a football scholarship. He's just a player," Tau said.

Brock Fonoimoana added eight points to go along with four rebounds and picked off passing lanes for four steals.

"It's a smart play on him. He had the instincts to go steal the ball," Tau said.

Campbell had difficulties pulling away from Kahuku and took a six-point lead in the second quarter. Kache Kaio, who was the next leading scorer with nine, hit a shot from the block near the 2 minute mark in the second quarter and the Red Raiders trailed, 22-19 going into halftime.

Ah You hit a turnaround jumper and Kaio hit a layup to give the Red Raiders their first lead since the first quarter. The Sabers responded after Carreira got his first 3-pointer to fall and the Sabers followed up with layups from Malik Jackson and Blenman-Villarreal to go up six and forced a Kahuku timeout.

Kahuku would cut the deficit down to one twice in the quarter but could not take the lead and trailed, 34-31 entering the fourth.

The Red Raiders finished 12 of 36 (33.3 percent) from the field and hit 15 of their 27 free throw attempts.

Campbell reaches the semifinal round for the first time since 2015.

"I told them they have to keep refocusing. I know they're still happy about the OIA championship. Why not try for a state championship now? We're right here. Might as well go for it. You won for a reason, let's go," Tau said.

The Sabers will have to go through Maryknoll to get to the title game.

The second-ranked Spartans stifled third-seeded Kamehameha-Maui, 41-19 to reach the semifinal round for the first time since 2020, when it last won a state title.

Justin Yap was the only player to score in double figures and finished with 10. Fabian Camacho and Zion Milare each added nine and Jerome Lilio with seven to help the ILH runner ups.

Spartans outscored the Warriors in every stanza and held them to two points in the second and third quarters.

Halftime score was 17-8.

Maryknoll shot 12 of 29 (41.4 percent) from the field despite shooting 3-for-10 from the perimeter. The Spartans hit 70 percent of their free throws to finish 14-for-20.

Kamehameha-Maui was 7 of 31 (22.6 percent) from the field and 0-for-11 from 3.

Dylan Schnitzer led the Warriors with seven points and drop to the fifth-place semifinals to face Kahuku at 7 p.m. at McKinley.

Maryknoll beat Kamehameha-Maui, 44-34 in last year's state tournament opening round.

Reach Brandon Ching at [email protected].

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