King Kekaulike captures first MIL basketball title
LAHAINA – As the King Kekaulike High School boys baskteball team rushed the court after its 58-46 victory over Baldwin Friday night at the Lahaina Civic Center, the program celebrated its first Maui Interscholastic Leauge championship.
“I’m so happy for these kids, they deserve it,” Na Alii coach Bill Naylor said after the win in the MIL tournment Division I title game finished a 14-0 run through the league. “Our school has not had the greatest reputation over the years and we’re trying to prove some things with athletics. . . . We’re really happy about the program and the school.”
Na Alii was led by their returning MIL first-team selection, Chase Iwata-Bartelme, who scored 21 points.
Baldwin forward Teva Eldridge led the team with 19, scoring 14 in the second half, to finish the tournament with 35 points in two games.
Jansen Agapay and Jacob Havron both added 10 for Na Alii.
Although the Bears (10-4) hung with Na Alii the entire game and were only down by six at halftime, they would not get any closer.
“Kekaulike shot the lights out,” Bears coach Wayne Gushiken said. “They’re bench came in, did a good job, hit their threes and played good defense. Gotta hand it to them, they did a good job.”
Early in the fourth quarter, the Bears were down by seven, but two free-throws and back to back threes by Iwata-Bartelme and Austin Ferreira, Na Alii pushed the lead to 15.
“We practiced hard and played hard,” said Iwata-Bartelme, who was 13-for-13 at the free-throw line. “As a team we have this saying, ‘We held the rope.’ We took hands and pretended that everybody was hanging from a cliff and if one person were to let it go, then we’d all fall. We worked as a team to get there.”
Both Na Alii and the Bears will travel to the state tournament Feb. 20-23 on Oahu, with Na Alii looking to improve on their loss to Kahuku last year when the program made its first-ever trip to state.
“Because we fell short against Kahuku, it was a great learning lesson,” said Iwata-Bartelme. “It kind of taught us that we can’t take anything for granted.”
Naylor said the team will need to step up against the bigger competition in Oahu and will be looking to the 6-foot-5 Havron to provide some size underneath.
“Jacob’s gotta play big,” he said. “He’s our biggest guy and everybody at states has got big guys. But we all got to play big.”
* Chris Sugidono is at email@example.com
KING KEKAULIKE 58, BALDWIN 46
KING KEKAULIKE (58)
Jansen Agapay 10, Alroy Ferreira 3, Chase Iwata-Bartelme 21, Elijah Engoring 2, Austin Ferreira 8, Jacob Havron 10, Gabe Gunter 4.
Kody Takushi 8, Jacob Valle 0, Jeremiah Badillo 0, Ryan Garces 8, Randy Wong 2, Bradley Bowlin 9, Teva Eldridge 19.