HHSAA Boys Basketball
Saint Louis fends off Campbell to defend Division I state crown


  



Fri, Feb 10, 2023 @ Stan Sheriff


Final 1 2 3 4  
Campbell (12-1, 25-6) 13 910739
Saint Louis (9-4, 27-7) 13 8 11 941
P. Sepulona 15 pts  5/6 FTs
M. Hornage 15 pts  1 3pm  2/3 FTs
J. Posiulai 4 tot  4 def
M. Carreira 7 tot  7 def

Back-to-back for the Brotherhood.

Top-ranked and seeded Saint Louis successfully defended its Heide & Cook/HHSAA Division I Boys Basketball State Championship by holding off second seed and fifth-ranked Campbell, 41-39, in front of 3,565 fans at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center Friday.

The Crusaders win back-to-back titles under coach Dan Hale for the first time since a three-peat stretch from 1966 to 1968.

The Sabers' historic run to their first-ever state championship game came to an end, but it gave Saint Louis all it could handle.

"I'm so proud of my kids. We lost the game, but these kids got so much good memories. First time to get here. It sucks losing, but I'm so proud to be their coach," Campbell coach Wyatt Tau said.

"To beat a team like that who was firing on all cylinders. They can hold their heads up high because boy they played a heck of a game," Saint Louis coach Dan Hale said.

Saint Louis' Pupu Sepulona drives to the basket for a shot attempt against Campbell. Sepulona had a game-high 15 points in the title game and was named the Division I tournament's most outstanding player. Greg Yamamoto | SL    Purchase image

Pupu Sepulona overcame foul trouble early in the first half and finished with 15 points. Post mate Jordan Posiulai picked up the offensive slack for the Crusaders while Sepulona was on the bench and finished with 11.

Saint Louis collapsed on Rondell Blenman-Villarreal and forced a jump ball and turnover. Revuelto lofted a pass to a streaking Sepulona from the baseline and he was fouled. He sank both free throws to put the Crusaders up four, 38-34 with 34.3 seconds left in the fourth.

"We practiced that play everyday in practice. Pupu is a our main guy and can knock down free throws. Those free throws were big for us," Revuelto said.

Blenman-Villarreal kicked it out to Malik Jackson for a straight-away 3-pointer with 25 seconds left to pull Campbell within one.

"I had to make it when it counts. Making those free throws were very important because Campbell on the other end hit a 3 and making those free throws were big," Sepulona said.

Shancin Revuelto inbounded the ball to Keanu Meacham, who finished with seven points, was fouled immediately. He went to the free throw line and knocked down the foul shots to make it, 40-37.

"The free throws I made were pretty exciting and I cleared my head before I shot the free throws," Meacham said.

"It's a trust thing. I trust him. When we have that relationship of trust, I designed that play and I wanted him to shoot those free throws. ‘Why would you put a freshman at the line to shoot big free throws?' He can step up in big moments and that was tough," Hale said of Meacham.

Josh Ellis answered on the other end with a layup and Posiulai was fouled. He missed the first attempt and made the second to make it, 41-39, with 4.6 seconds left on the clock.

Saint Louis had fouls to give and Reveulto committed a foul that took off two seconds. Campbell inbounded the ball from half court and Revuelto disrupted the pass intended for Ellis as he stepped on the sideline with 0.4 seconds left giving it back to Saint Louis to end the game.

"In the end it came down to a defensive play we made. That's been the story of the season was to make the defensive play," Hale said of Revuelto's play.

Revuelto scored two points, but had four assists and four steals.

"That was my role this year. If I was not scoring, I would be distributing the ball to players that could score," Revuelto said.

Miles Hornage led the Sabers with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and Jackson was the next highest scorer with seven. Blenman-Villarreal, who led Campbell with 15 points in their semifinal win over Maryknoll, finished with four points, two assists and two steals.

Saint Louis players and coaches pose for team photo after claiming its second straight state title. Greg Yamamoto | SL    Purchase image

Sepulona picked up his second foul at the 2:18 mark in the first quarter.

"We tried to go after him with the two fouls. We succeeded in that but we didn't succeed executing our plays. We didn't execute our defensive side. They got a lot of loose rebounds and that was the battle we needed to win," Tau said whose team was out rebounded 18 to 14.

Jordan Nunuha hit a floater before the buzzer to tie the game at 13 going into the second. Nunuha was battling an ankle injury suffered in the Kailua game.

"It was pretty bad and it was swollen. Coming back from my injury motivated my team to win this," Nunuha said.

"Thank you to all of our amazing trainers. Thank you for helping taping us and icing us," Posiulai added.

Hornage hit back-to-back buckets to open the second quarter. Posiulai hit a pair of free throws and Stone Kanoa converted a backdoor cut from Revuelto to tie the game at 17. Posiulai completed the 3-point play after getting fouled on the right block.

"Jordan stepped up big time. We don't win without Jordan. It kinda evolved this year. It's been the Pupu show for a while and Jordan started exerting himself. Walling up in the middle and keeping the guys out of the paint or making it tougher for them. In a two-point game, that could be the difference," Hale said.

"Hats off to them, that's why they're the number one team. We knew we had to come here and do whatever we needed to do to get every loose ball. We had a hard time in our zone when they kept motioning. We don't normally get caught that way. When we switched over and brought different kids in, they got confused," Tau said.

Hornage scored his 13th point and Jiovanni Ramos split his free throws before Ellis hit a 3-pointer near the top of the arc for a 22-21 lead at halftime.

Sepulona came out energized in the second half and attacked the rim. After Blenman-Villarreal tied the game at 24, Meacham added a putback, Sepulona spun left, and Revuelto had a steal and layup for a 6-0 run. Sepulona extended the lead back to six off a deflection.

"When I was sitting on the bench, I was mad because I wasn't there with my boys. When it came to the second half, I had to do my job and bring us back in the game," Sepulona said.

Blenman-Villarreal hit free throws to bring the Sabers within two. After Sepulona's turnover, Hornage found Jackson and his fast break layup dropped before time expired to tie the game at 32 going into the fourth.

With 5:08 left, Sepulona missed the first attempt but made the second attempt to make it, 33-32 and never missed again from the free throw line for the quarter. He shot 5-for-6 from the line for the game.

Saint Louis shot 9-for-12 in the fourth quarter and finished 15-for-22 (68 percent) for the game.

Sepulona was fouled on a putback attempt and swished both free throws to extend the lead, 35-32 with 2:36 left. Rylan Sotelo made an acrobatic layup to bring Campbell within one, but Nunuha split his free throws with 57.4 seconds to set up the dramatic finish.

Saint Louis shot 13 of 26 (50 percent) from the field while Campbell was 13 of 30 (43.3 percent).

The Crusaders won state championships in 1957, 1966 to 1968, and 1986.

The Sabers were seeking their first-ever state championship in school history.

Heide & Cook/HHSAA Division I All-Tournament Team
(as selected by the media and HHSAA)

Miles Hornage, Campbell
Jordan Posiulai, Saint Louis
Rondell Blenman-Villareal, Campbell
Shancin Revuelto, Saint Louis
Justin Yap, Maryknoll

Most Outstanding Player: Pupualii Sepulona, Saint Louis



Reach Brandon Ching at [email protected].




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