Na Pueo knock off Pine Lads
Bluh’s 3-pointer sends Maui Prep past Lanai 61-58, into MIL Division II tournament final
OLINDA — It was the biggest shot of Bennett Bluh’s life and the most important shot in the short history of Maui Preparatory Academy boys basketball.
Bluh, a 5-foot-5 sophomore guard, sank a 3-pointer from the corner on Thursday night to lead Na Pueo to a 61-58 win over Lanai in the semifinals of the Maui Interscholastic League Division II tournament at Erdman Athletic Center. It was his sixth 3-pointer of the game.
The shot gave MPA, in its first season of varsity basketball, a 59-58 lead with 4.2 seconds left.
After Lanai threw the ball away, Drew Triplett nailed two free throws with 3.3 seconds left to account for the final margin.
Bluh finished with 18 points and Triplett, also a sophomore, scored 20. Triplett’s pass on a break down the court to Bluh in the left corner came after Lanai’s Devrene Kahananui-Alejado missed the front end of a one-and-one with 12.7 seconds left.
“I mean, it was a good pass by Drew over here,” Bluh said. “It just feels good to win it for my team, especially the seniors. It would have been their last game if I didn’t hit it. I mean, that’s for them.”
MPA (8-4) moves to the MIL D-II tournament final tonight against regular-season champion Seabury Hall. Na Pueo must win to force a winner-take-all game Saturday for the only state berth that the MIL gets at this level.
A Seabury Hall win in either game sends the Spartans to the state tournament next week.
“Just to come out as like a small school, first year, we shocked everybody,” Bluh said. “It just feels great.”
Lanai took a 58-54 lead on a pair of free throws by Jesse Sigrah with 21 seconds to go to cap a 15-6 run by the Pine Lads to begin the fourth quarter.
The second-seeded Pine Lads led 56-51 before Triplett completed a three-point play with 1:35 to go.
Sigrah missed the front end of a one-and-one with 47 seconds left, but Maui Prep’s James Falk dribbled the ball off his leg with 23 seconds to go to set up the final drama.
“They beat us (twice) in the regular season, it just feels good to get redemption against them,” Bluh said. “Drew is such a good player, I thought he was going to take it to the rack (on the final play). He told me that after the game that he was going to do it.”
The game was close throughout — it was tied 31-31 at halftime and Na Pueo led 48-43 going to the fourth quarter.
Lanai saw its season end at 8-3. The Pine Lads came into the tournament seeded second after a pair of close regular-season losses to defending champion Seabury Hall (11-0).
The Pine Lads say goodbye to seniors Kahananui-Alejado, Jamahl Adams, Andre Adams, Elijah Gima-Maltezo and Jayden Castillo-Pagay. Andre Adams led Lanai with 18 points, while Sigrah and Devin Vidad each had 13.
“I think both sides, we weren’t getting second shots,” Lanai coach Jimmy Fernandez said. “They were playing very smart — they were getting second shots and they were basically making perimeter shots.
“No. 1 (Bluh) made the big one.”
MPA coach Chris Salem said it was a special win.
“You know, these boys, they’re young, they’re mostly sophomores and there’s just no let-up in them,” Salem said. “The most wonderful thing is how cohesive they are. They like each other and you could see it in the way they play.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com.
MAUI PREP (61)
Bennett Bluh 18, James Falk 5, Dylan Falk 3, Drew Triplett 20, Ozzi Doherty 0, Harrison Cramond 4, Noah Hill 11, Tyler Kirby 0.
Jesse Sigrah 13, Devin Vidad 13, Sam Dimaya 2, Andre Adams 18, Devrene Kahananui-Alejado 7, Jamahl Adams 4, Elijah Gima-Maltezo 1.
Maui Prep 16 15 17 12–61
Lanai 18 13 12 15–58
SEABURY HALL 59, MOLOKAI 34
Kanalu Kahale 12, Ayden Inouye 2, Joshua Hanchett 0, Jonah Sahagun 1, Kaelo Kalani 0, Jewl Carriaga 0, Owen Svetin 7, Kaya Alcon 5, Vaai Seumalo 5, Nickolas Rapanot 2.
SEABURY HALL (59)
Kai Preseault 3, Carl Molinaro 6, Caden Granum 11, Cooper Waite 8, Ujaia Cunningham 0, Joaquin Donez 9, Masyn Johnson 16, Max McKuin 1, Pono Birnie 0, Philip Birkholz 2, Carter Phillips 2, Steve Savou 0, Zachariah Burkett 0, James Judge 1.
Molokai 6 9 4 15–34
Seabury Hall 19 20 10 10–59
MIL D-II Tournament
At Seabury Hall
Seabury Hall 59, Molokai 34
Maui Prep 61, Lanai 58
D-II tournament final
Seabury Hall vs. Maui Prep, 7 p.m.
D-II overall championship, if necessary: Seabury Hall vs. Maui Prep, 11 a.m.