HHSAA Boys Basketball
Saint Louis flattens Kalaheo to reach third-straight title game


Fri, Feb 23, 2024 @ Punahou

Final 1 2 3 4  
Kalaheo (11-3, 21-15) 8 9101340
Saint Louis (11-3, 27-5) 19 16 11 1258
P. Sepulona 25 pts  1 3pm  6/9 FTs
C. Bostic 12 pts  2/2 FTs
P. Sepulona 11 tot  4 off  7 def
J. Gilmore 7 tot  4 off  3 def
T. Jeffrey 4 ast

The Saints are marching back to the title game.

Top-ranked and seeded Saint Louis jumped out to a hot start and dominated Kalaheo, 58-40, in the HHSAA/Heide & Cook Division I Boys Basketball State Championship semifinals at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

The Crusaders will try for its third-straight state crown for the first time since a three-peat stretch from 1966 to 1968 under legendary coach Walter Wong.

"Only after if we can pull it off," Saint Louis coach Dan Hale said when asked if a three-peat is on the mind. "Each year is so different. Even though we have most of these guys back from last year, it's different competition and our team is different this year than last year so that's one of those things you think about after. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. Obviously we're playing to win, so we're able to do that, great, then this team has really maximized its talents."

Pupu Sepulona poured in 25 points and hauled down 11 boards and Stone Kanoa and Shancin Revuelto each added eight in their sixth-straight win.

"What's going through my head, I have a tunnel vision. I'm just focused on winning, that's the most important. I don't care if I don't score anything. It's for my boys. Today, it was a team win. Whatever team we play, we cannot take them easy or lightly so we have to bring our ‘A' game tomorrow," Sepulona said.

The Mustangs, the last team to make it into the state tournament from the OIA, were held to 14 of 39 (35.9 percent) overall from the field.

"We watched a lot of film on Kalaheo so we knew their strengths and weaknesses. We came ready. We had to set the tempo from the beginning and we dominated on both sides of the court offensively and defensively, we came out with the win," Sepulona said.

CJ Bostic, who recorded a triple-double against Baldwin yesterday, finished with 12 points and Peyton Smith hit three 3s for nine points.

"That comes down to heart. The heart of the team is Stone Kanoa. He's a tough, tough defender. We know how good CJ is. He's an incredible player and we put our defensive guy on him and he did a good job," Hale said.

The Crusaders jumped out to a 7-0 lead, five coming from Sepulona to start the first quarter. The Mustangs got within three twice despite going 3 for 11 from the floor, but Saint Louis closed out the period on a 10-2 run to lead, 19-8.

Joshua Schutter hit a runner for Kalaheo's first field goal in the second quarter, but Saint Louis pushed the lead to 16, after Jordan Nunuha converted a lob to force a Mustang timeout.

Kalaheo went on a mini run as Bostic had a steal and score and Smith canned a 3-pointer from the corner to trail, 28-16. Revuelto answered with a triple and Kanoa hit a layup from Revuelto's full court pass. Sepulona cleaned up his own miss before the buzzer for a 35-17 lead at halftime.

The Crusaders shot 58 percent from the floor in the quarter and was 14 for 25 (56 percent) in the first half. 12 of their 16 quarter points were from inside the paint.

The Mustangs shot 6 of 18 (33 percent) from the field at halftime, but hit four of their six free throws.

Bostic scored consecutive layups to open the third quarter for eight of his quarter points to force a quick Saint Louis timeout. The Crusaders responded with back-to-back layups from Revuelto and Sepulona. Sepulona scored seven quarter points and hit three of his five free throw attempts.

Kanoa's layup gave the Crusaders their largest lead (21 points) and took a 19-point lead into the fourth.

"I think when you build a team on defense and highlight strengths and you have a whole year to work through that. By the end, they start to gel together and that's what this team has done. Up until this point they did a great job not being complacent and challenging themselves to get better," Hale said.

Saint Louis finished 23 of 43 (53.5 percent) overall from the field and out rebounded Kalaheo, 36-15 that led to 16 second chance points.

"With so many shooters they have on the floor, you can't give them extra opportunities to shoot. Peyton Smith hits a 3 and if that happens throughout the game, we're in deep trouble. We did a good job making sure we boxed out and we crashed everybody towards the boards," Hale said.

Kalaheo was seeking its first title game appearance since 2015 when it won its fifth overall Division I championship.

Reach Brandon Ching at [email protected].

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