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Crusaders Pull Away from Pahoa to Win Cardinal Classic

December 14, 2014, 11:21 AM HST
* Updated December 14, 11:25 AM
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Marcus Mariota has a Heisman Trophy, but he doesn’t have a championship.

Sure, he’ll have a chance to play for one in January, but his alma mater’s boys basketball team won a title of its own late Saturday night, outlasting Pahoa 64-52 in the championship game of the Cliff and Kathie Dias St. Joseph School Cardinal Classic at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

Saint Louis coach Keith Spencer acknowledged after the game that Pahoa handed his team its toughest challenge this season, but he relied on two career varsity standouts, Ihaka Johnson and Jimmy Nunuha III, to carry the Crusaders to victory.

Nunuha III was a critical reason for Saint Louis’ win. He shot 4-for-4 in the first quarter, scoring eight points as he constantly attacked the rim against the battle-tested Pahoa defense. Saint Louis held a 12-9 lead after the first quarter.

Pahoa’s answer came from senior Tolby Saito, who scored a game-high 27 points to keep his team in the game.

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“That number 23 (Saito), he’s one helluva shooter,” Spencer exclaimed after the game. “I haven’t seen a shooter like that since Alan Tanabe, and that goes way back.”

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Saito was quiet in the first quarter, taking a backseat to junior Keinan Agonias, who scored seven in the opening quarter. He seemed to hit a different gear towards the end of the opening quarter, firing long three point shots and poking and prodding against the Saint Louis defense.

Saito shot 11-for-23 from the floor, everything from step-back floaters to leaners against contact.

Saint Louis had the energy in the end to hold off a Daggers squad that played just seven players. The Crusaders defense forced five turnovers in the fourth quarter, leading to transition opportunities for Johnson, who scored five of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. Lance Sataraka was also an important presence, scoring seven of his 12 points in the final frame.

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The championship celebration didn’t feature a gigantic trophy or all-tournament selections, but both teams were awarded basketball gear from SportsLine.

Each participating team received a new basketball and new coach clipboard from local sporting goods supplier. Pahoa received an additional new basketball for its runner-up finish, and Saint Louis received a new basketball and new basketball bag for winning the title.

Nunuha III led Saint Louis, now 6-0 on the year, with 19 points. He added five rebounds. The Crusaders will participate in the ‘Iolani Prep Basketball Classic this week, opening with a Wednesday matchup against Lexington Catholic of Kentucky.

Joel Rosario supplemented Pahoa’s scoring with 10 points, eight in the second half. The Daggers, now 6-1 on the season, will have a chance to win its second non-league tournament when they participate in the Hilo High Holiday Prep Classic. Pahoa opens the tournament Thursday against St. Joseph.

Pahoa 9 17 13 13 – 52

Saint Louis 12 17 16 19 – 64

Cliff and Kathi Dias St. Joseph School Cardinal Classic

Saturday’s scores

St. Joseph 44, Ka’u 41

Honoka’a 58, Hilo 50

Waiakea 53, Kamehameha-Hawai’i 40

Saint Louis 64, Pahoa 52

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