KAHULUI - At times on Saturday, the Baldwin High School boys basketball team seemed more able to shoot itself in the foot than at the basket.
As the Bears again struggled to shoot straight, however, they focused like a laser on defense and pulled away from Maui High in the second half for a 61-46 win at the Sabers' packed gym.
Baldwin forced 25 turnovers - eight in the third quarter when the Bears outscored the Sabers 23-11 to break away from a tie at halftime.
Taje Akaka of Baldwin High School goes to the hoop as Maui High’s Ginel Mateo defends during the second quarter of the Bears’ 61-46 win over the Sabers on Saturday in Kahului.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
The Bears’ Jeremiah Badillo and Sabers’ Kainalu Rundle vie for a loose ball during the second quarter.
The Maui News / CHRIS SUGIDONO photo
"That's always the game plan - to pressure the ball, go full-court man and just constantly create turnovers and get a run on," said Baldwin senior Teva Eldridge, who finished with a game-high 17 points.
The Bears (5-1) retained sole possession of first place in the Maui Interscholastic League Division I standings halfway through the regular season, with three teams, including Maui High (3-3), within two games or less.
Baldwin's loss came by a point to Lahainaluna last Saturday - the Bears shot 26 percent in that game.
|St. Anthony 48, Molokai 41|
|Lahainaluna 61, King Kekaulike 58, OT|
|Baldwin 61, Maui High 46|
|Seabury Hall 39, Lanai 32|
|King Kekaulike at Baldwin, 7 p.m.|
|* * *|
|GIRLS (FINAL STANDINGS)|
Molokai 47, Lanai 34
Hana 48, Seabury Hall 28
End of regular season
D-II regular-season third-place playoff: Lanai vs. Hana at Baldwin, 5:30 p.m.
D-I first round: Kamehameha Maui at Baldwin, 7 p.m.
"It is a lot of fun," Eldridge said of the race, which has helped create large crowds in many of the D-I games this season. "That loss got a lot of energy into us knowing that we have to work harder to keep our game at the top level, because that was not the best game that we played."
Eldridge hit a pair of early 3-pointers against the Sabers before his second foul forced him to the bench late in the first quarter, and for the rest of the half.
"That foul trouble kind of hurt us a little bit, kept me out of the second quarter," Eldridge said. "But we came out with a lot of energy in the third quarter and that got us up. The defense allowed us to go on a big run in the third quarter, which created a big lead for us. That was a big momentum shift."
Baldwin shot 20-for-51, but limited its turnovers to 16 - just three in the third quarter.
"The last two games we haven't shot really well," said Bears coach Wayne Gushiken. "We shoot really well at practice, we are practice shooters. We just have to find the hole when it counts."
Baldwin took advantage of Maui High missing its starting backcourt of B.J. Villon and Denzell Quines, both of whom have concussions. Sabers coach Lloyd Leverett said he does not know when they will return.
Quines was forced to leave the gym Saturday because of the noise level.
"We are going to be down for a little bit," Leverett said. "So it's going to be tough. The young kids have got to step up, that's all there is to it."
Tristan Nichols led Maui High with 15 points as he battled against Eldridge inside much of the night.
Ryan Garces scored 12 points for Baldwin.
"Offense you can have a bad night, but defense is always there, we rely on that," Gushiken said.
Eldridge is also a key for the Bears - the MIL All-Star linebacker has not made a college choice for sport or school.
"He is our mainstay, he has got to be in the game for us to be successful," Gushiken said.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Kody Takushi 4, Taje Akaka-Foster 7, Jeremiah Badillo 4, Niko Corpin 4, Ryan Garces 12, Liam Wake 6, Phillip Tomas 7, Kelvin Aunese 0, Teva Eldridge 17, Josiah Maglente-Tonu 0, Miki Fifita 0.
MAUI HIGH (46)
Joshua Viloria 2, A.J. Baguyo 1, Ginel Mateo 8, Jake Frazee 3, Jomar Dela Cruz 0, Nathan Daguio 0, Kainalu Rundle 2, Tristan Nichols 15, Daniel Fonseca 8, Marcus Baclig 3, Justine Daniel 4.
Baldwin ........ 15 ..... 12 ..... 23 ..... 11-61
Maui High ..... 16 ..... 11 ..... 11 ...... 8-46