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HPA Manhandles Kalani to Win DII State Hoops Title

February 23, 2014, 10:01 AM HST
* Updated February 24, 9:15 AM
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HONOLULU – Backed by a dominant inside presence, Hawai`i Preparatory Academy secured its first state basketball championship in a 42-33 victory Saturday over Kalani High School at the Hawaiian Airlines/Hawai`i High School Athletic Association Division II Basketball Championships.

It’s the first time that a team has won a championship in any basketball division after winning a play-in game to get into the tournament.

“It’s been a long process,” said HPA co-head coach Dave Huntington after the game. “Three years in a row we’ve been here. We’re really excited to get over the hump and get this W on the late game on Saturday.”

Hawai`i Prep had finished in third place each of the last two seasons before playing in Saturday night’s championship game at the Neal Blaisdell Center.

Hawai`i Prep (20-7 overall, 16-1 BIIF/HHSAA) was led by a strong post presence that made its impact just moments after the opening tip. Ka Makani led 10-7 after the opening tip, but grabbed nearly every rebound in sight, winning that battle 16-3 after just eight minutes with 12 offensive rebounds collected.

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“I think it’d be a shame if we didn’t win the battle on the glass with our size,” Huntington said. “It’s something we work on every day. We weren’t getting the put backs to go in early on. Once we settled, we finished on some of those offensive boards. It was definitely a huge part of our success today.”

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Missed shots, however, kept the game close. HPA shot 4-for-19 in the opening period and took 12 more shots than the Falcons after the first quarter.

Reserve forward Nicky Palleschi stepped up his production in the second quarter, scoring four of his nine points in the period.

“I think this was probably his best game of the season,” said Huntington of his junior forward. “He was so instrumental for us in the first half. He hit some big shots and got big rebounds. He was a big part of us tonight.”

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Kalani (12-16, 8-8) continued to hang around through the second half. After a tight third quarter, the Falcons were allowed to stay in the game after eight fourth quarter turnovers by HPA. Ace Faumui scored on a layup with 2:48 remaining to cut Ka Makani’s lead to five pointswith 2:48 remaining, the closest it had gotten since late in the second quarter.

Faumui’s basket would be the last score of the night for the Oahu Interscholastic Federation’s runner-up. HPA hit four of its last five free throws in the game to close out the championship victory.

David Ovbagbedia, the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Ka Makani. The 6-foot-4 senior averaged 11 points per game during the three-day tournament.

“David’s been there for us all season long,” Huntington said. “In late game tight games, we’ve been going to him all season long and going to the hole. He’s a force, offensively and defensively, on the glass.”

Faumui scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Falcons, who participated in the Division II state tournament for the first time in the school’s history.

Hawai`i Prep 10 11 11 10 – 42

Kalani 7 5 10 11 – 33

 

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