Bears capture MIL crown
Akaka helps lead Baldwin past Lahainaluna 80-67 for school’s first league title since 2014
WAILUKU — Quintan Akaka was in the fourth grade when the Baldwin High School boys basketball team last won the Maui Interscholastic League Division I title, in 2014. His oldest brother Taje Akaka was a key reserve on that team that the youngster watched play from the bleachers.
On Tuesday night, the younger Akaka brother played a huge role in the Bears’ latest MIL hoops crown as he pulled down numerous rebounds and scored 17 points to help lead Baldwin to an 80-67 win over Lahainaluna in the MIL D-I tournament championship game at Jon Garcia Gym.
“It feels good, I was always here watching — growing up I had big shoes to fill,” said Quintan Akaka, a 6-foot-5 sophomore. “My brothers were awesome athletes and I always looked up to them. They were, like, my role models.”
Indeed, both Taje and Chayce Akaka played football and were members of state-championship baseball teams for the Bears, but neither is as tall as young Quintan.
When asked how his conversation would go with his oldest brother, Quintan smiled: “I’m going to thank him for everything he’s done.”
Baldwin (12-2) advances to the Snapple/HHSAA state quarterfinals next Thursday on Oahu. The Lunas (10-4) will host a state first-round game on Monday against an Oahu Interscholastic Association opponent to be announced.
Quintan Akaka drove the lane to give the Bears a 50-38 lead with just over 6 minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Lunas scored the next five points, pulling within 50-43 on a drive by Matthew Rabino. Akaka answered on the other end and Isaiah Richards nailed a top-of-the-key 3 to make it 55-43 with 4:20 left in the third quarter.
Kuikawa Ross’ three-point play with 1:49 to go in the third made it 59-48 before Tre Rickard answered for the Lunas. Malino Jacinto made a free throw and then a layup to bring Lahainaluna within 59-53 going to the fourth quarter.
Ross scored inside and Richards made one free throw with 6:01 to play to push the lead to 62-54. Holden Ioanis’ drive through the lane made it 64-56 moments later.
Richards’ drive to the rim made it 68-58 with 3:57 left. The Lunas got within 68-61 with 2:35 to go on a basket by Jacinto, but they would get no closer.
Richards poured in 23 points and Ross had 22 — both are seniors. Ross has been with coach Cody Tesoro since the 2005 Baldwin graduate took over the program four years ago after a stellar career at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore. Richards is a transfer from Maui High.
“It feels awesome, my first title as coach,” said Tesoro, who won multiple MIL titles as a player. “There’s something about winning it as a coach — it feels a lot better. You know, when you’re in high school you didn’t really watch film, we didn’t put in all the extra work after practice when no one’s in the gym.
“As a coach, you’re watching huddles, I’m talking to my college coach, I’m talking to my assistant coach who is playing pro in the Philippines, I’m talking to guys I played with in college, just picking their brains.”
After Levi Basturo completed a three-point play for the Lunas with 2:33 left in the first quarter to give Lahainaluna a 20-12 lead, the Bears finished the period on an 8-0 run, which began a 20-2 burst that gave them control.
Akaka hit a 3-pointer, Ioanis scored the next three points on two trips down the floor and Akaka hit a turnaround jumper off an assist from Owen Nakamura to tie the score with 50 seconds left in the quarter.
The Bears pushed the run to 15-0 to take a 27-20 lead on a 3-pointer by Richards and baskets by Nakamura and Ross.
T.J. Galoia scored inside to stop the run with 5:25 to go in the half, bringing the Lunas within 27-22.
Richards stole an inbounds pass and then nailed a 3 to make it 30-22 with 4:50 on the clock. Akaka scored to run the Bears’ lead to 32-22 — the Lunas scored the next five points to slow the 20-2 Baldwin streak.
Rickard had 18 points and Jacinto added 17 for the Lunas, who saw their five-year reign atop the league come to an end.
“They really came to play,” first-year Lahainaluna coach Nick Webb said of the Bears. “We gave it our all. We left it on the floor. Baldwin, their program is where it’s at right now because of the hard work they’ve put in. Taking over this year, you know, we want to be that next year.”
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tre Rickard 18, Juztin Gaoiran 11, Malino Jacinto 17, Levi Basturo 8, Josh Tihada 5, Matthew Rabino 6, Sam Fifita 0, T.J. Galoia 2.
Jerren Manarpaac 0, Owen Nakamura 2, Holden Ioanis 16, Isaiah Richards 23, Avery Pauole 0, Kuikawa Ross 22, Quintan Akaka 17, Hudson Yarbrough 0.
Lahainaluna 20 13 20 14–67
Baldwin 20 23 16 21–80
DIVISION I • At Baldwin
Baldwin 80, Lahainaluna 67
DIVISION II • At Seabury Hall
St. Anthony vs. Molokai, 5:30 p.m.
Maui Prep vs. Hana, 7 p.m.
St. Anthony-Molokai winner at Seabury Hall, 5:30 p.m.
Lanai vs. Maui Prep-Hana winner, 7 p.m.
D-II tournament final, 7 p.m.
D-II overall championship, if necessary, 11 a.m.