Na Alii secure regular-season championship
WAILUKU – The King Kekau-like High School boys basketball team keeps taking tiny steps that add up to history, but Na Alii’s sights are on bigger prizes.
Junior guard Chase Iwata-Bartelme had 17 points, including 11 in the second quarter, to lead King Kekaulike to a 42-36 win over Baldwin in the Bears’ gym Thursday night. The victory clinched the Maui Interscholastic League Division I regular-season title for Na Alii (10-0) – the first in school histo-ry – and the state-tournament berth that goes with it.
“Nope, nope,” King Kekaulike coach Bill Naylor said when asked if having the school’s second state tournament wrapped up means anything. “Like I was saying, every single game for us is a new adventure. The Kekaulike boys, we are moving in the right direction, and we’re really happy with what we are doing so far, but we have had some letdowns.”
Iwata-Bartelme kept his team in the game by scoring all but two of its second-quarter points, hitting three 3-pointers in the period. His drive and dish to Jansen Agapay for a 3-pointer from the left-hand corner at the third-quarter buzzer pushed the lead to 34-27.
“I have got to thank my teammates first,” Iwata-Bar-telme said. “Without my team, without us as a whole, there’s no way we could have done anything. I can’t take credit for any of the points I had because without assists from other guys, it was all a team effort.”
Na Alii made their first state trip last season as the league runners-up to the Bears.
“That’s great, it feels good to I guess, say, make history,” Iwata-Bartelme said. “We are just taking it one game at a time, practice hard, and keep going. Our goal is to get to state and do good, so now we want to win the MIL title.”
Baldwin trailed 22-20 at halftime – the Bears’ Teva Eldredge had nine of his 10 points in the first two quarters.
After Agapay’s 3-pointer to end the third and a pair of drives to the basket by Iwata-Bartelme to start the fourth, the Bears (6-3) were down 38-29 with 6 minutes, 15 seconds to play.
Kody Takushi hit a 3-pointer, Bradley Bowlin sank a jumper from the free-throw line and Jeremiah Badillo stole a pass and drove the length of the floor for a layup to pull Baldwin within two with 1:43 left.
Agapay once more came up big, penetrating in transition, and his three-point play pushed Na Alii’s lead to 41-36 with 1:29 remaining. Jacob Havron hit a free throw with 46 seconds left.
Only four Na Alii players scored – Havron had 12 points and eight rebounds while battling all night with Bowlin, who had seven points and eight rebounds.
Agapay scored 10 points for King Kekaulike.
“That’s not a problem,” Naylor said. “We will usually get a little bit from our two guard (Alroy Ferreira) and Gabe (Gunter) plays his butt off. He doesn’t get a whole lot of recognition, but he is leading in rebounds, he is leading us on the floor, he leads us with his defense. Those other three guys are the guys that score most of the points.”
For the Bears, the only way to Oahu now goes through the MIL tournament.
“I tell you what, King Kekaulike played hard, they wanted it more than us and it showed,” said Baldwin coach Wayne Gushiken. “I hope we’re ready for that tournament, but it didn’t look like it tonight. We have got to go back and do some soul searching in the locker room. I think we need to find some heart and some desire and play harder.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
KING KEKAULIKE BOYS 42, BALDWIN 36
KING KEKAULIKE (42)
Jansen Agapay 10, Alroy Ferreira 3, Chase Iwata-Bartelme 17, Elijah Engoring 0, Jordan Mauliola 0, Jacob Havron 12, Gabe Gunter 0.
Kody Takushi 7, Jacob Valle 2, Jeremiah Badillo 6, Ryan Garces 2, Mathew DeMichelle 2, Philip Thomas 0, Randy Wong 0, Bradley Bowlin 7, Teva Eldredge 10.