Bears clinch regular-season title
WAILUKU – It wasn’t the prettiest game, but it looked great to the Baldwin High School boys basketball team in the end.
The Bears methodically pulled away from Maui High on Saturday at the Baldwin gym for a 62-41 victory that clinched the Maui Interscholastic League Division I regular-season crown and a state tournament berth.
“I think we still have to play hard for the rest of the games to get ready for the state (tournament),” said Phillip Thomas, a 6-foot-2 junior forward, who scored 12 points for the Bears. “We know the MIL tournament is going to be pretty tough, but we are the No. 1 seed, so that is an easier way to go in.”
Baldwin (9-1) opened up a 15-4 lead midway through the first quarter and was in front 29-17 at halftime. It was 48-27 late in the third period, and Maui High (4-6) didn’t get closer than 17 the rest of the way.
“It was a good win tonight – I told the boys we needed this one just for our confidence zone,” said Bears coach Wayne Gushiken. “There’s no pressure going into the tournament other than we have to win it to get that first (MIL) spot.”
Teva Eldridge led Baldwin with 13 points. All 12 of the Bears got into the game, and 10 scored. Gushiken singled out Sam Balantac, a little-used sophomore forward who had five points.
“He really played big,” Gushiken said. “We are fortunate to have a lot of depth.”
The Bears won despite committing 20 fouls.
“We have got to work on our fundamentals, not reaching in, not making those silly fouls,” Gushiken said. “We get into foul trouble, we have got to substitute, it ruins our rhythm, our momentum – we are killing ourselves right now.”
Tristan Nichols scored 16 points for Maui High, which is in a three-team battle with Lahainaluna and King Kekaulike for second place.
No one else had more than seven points for the Sabers.
“We didn’t help ourselves any, did we?” Maui High coach Lloyd Leverett said. “If you are off a little bit, Baldwin will make you pay. That is what they are good, they capitalize on your mistakes.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
MAUI HIGH (41)
Joshua Viloria 0, A.J. Baguyo 1, Ginel Mateo 6, Brandon Villon 0, Denzell Quines 5, Jake Frazee 2, Jomar Dela Cruz 0, Nathan Daguio 0, Kainalu Rundle 7, Tristan Nichols 16, Daniel Fonseca 4, Marques Baclig 0, Justine Dancel 0.
Kody Takushi 2, Kelii Kaiama 0, Taje Akaka-Foster 2, Niko Corpin 9, Ryan Garces 7, Sam Balantac 5, Liam Wake 0, Phillip Thomas 12, Kelvin Aunese 2, Teva Eldridge 13, Josiah Maglente-Tonu 8, Miki Fifita 2.