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Triplett already making huge impact with Na Pueo

MPA sophomore guard’s 53-point game among best ever in state history

Drew Triplett in action during Maui Preparatory Academy’s win over Molokai on Saturday at Lahainaluna. RAY CHIN photo

Drew Triplett has adapted to basketball in the 50th state quite well.

So well, in fact, that the Maui Preparatory Academy sophomore scored more points in a single game than anyone else ever has in a Maui Interscholastic League game.

The 5-foot-11 guard poured in 53 points in a 92-60 win over Molokai on Saturday morning at Lahainaluna’s on-campus gym.

“It’s really humbling, to start off with,” Triplett said during his lunch hour on Monday via phone from MPA’s Napili campus. “I’ve put in a lot of work for countless years. I’ve always had the idea of scoring 40 in the back of my head. And then, just to score 50 was kind of surreal when it happened.”

According to Jerry Campany of HawaiiPrepWorld.com and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Triplett’s total is third all-time in state history for a high school boy. Jim Nicholson scored 60 for Saint Louis in a blowout win over Mid-Pacific in 1966, and Howie Dunham scored 58 for Saint Louis in a rout of Damien in 1967.

Triplett is in his first year at MPA after moving with his family from the Vancouver, Wash., area, where he played on the junior varsity squad for Camas High School last year. On Saturday, he had 18 field goals — only one of which was a 3-pointer — and was 16 for 17 at the free-throw line.

He knew he had 25 points at halftime.

“From then on I was, like, ‘Nothing’s really stopping me from attacking or getting to the rim,’ “ Triplett said. “So, I’m just going to keep doing it. I heard that I had 40 at the end of the third quarter, so I knew I was getting close.”

Both teams reveled in the MIL record performance.

“When I hit 40 I was really happy, so just throughout the fourth quarter I went to the rim as much as I could, finish as many plays as I was able to,” he said. “The team definitely supported me a lot — they were happy for me, as well as the Molokai team. Their sportsmanship, they were congratulating me the whole time. That was really nice to just have both teams come together in that moment.”

Na Pueo (2-4) are in their first year as a varsity program, and their first two wins in school history came Friday and Saturday over the Farmers.

Triplett said his previous career high at any level was 37 in an eighth-grade game. The Triplett family has been “part-time on Maui for, like, 10 years now, so we just decided to change it up, try something new, try a new experience for all of us because we’ve been in love with Maui our whole lives.”

Now, the plan is for Triplett to graduate from MPA. He had a 3.6 grade-point average in the fall semester.

“I love it, it’s definitely a big change, coming over here, new school, new environment, but I couldn’t ask for anything better, obviously,” Triplett said. “It’s the most fun I’ve ever had educationally and sports-wise, too.”

He wore a protective face mask in his record-breaker because he was hurt in a game on Lanai the previous week.

“I busted my forehead open, I had to get some stitches,” Triplett said.

He laughed when asked if he might keep the mask after his big game.

“I might because after the game actually some of the kids came up to me and were asking about Kyrie (Irving) when he wore a face mask he did the same thing,” Triplett said.

Na Pueo are hopeful to play their senior night game on Feb. 7 in their nearly completed on-campus gym, the Bozich Center for Athletics and Performing Arts, which will have its official opening night on March 28.

Watching Saturday’s game in front of only a few dozen spectators was still fun for MPA athletic director Keenan Reader.

“It was certainly motivational just to know the work he has put into his game, he is certainly a leader on our team, both in the classroom in his work ethic and on the basketball court with his work ethic,” Reader said of Triplett. “We knew he had scored a lot of points. He clearly was unstoppable on drives to the basket, but nobody in the stands really imagined he had scored that many. It just didn’t seem that way — he was passing the ball, he wasn’t acting selfishly — it was all a team focus.

“For Maui Prep, the focus was really on getting our first team wins. … It just felt good that Maui Prep basketball is here to stay and will be rising in the MIL in the years to come.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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