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Kohala tops Seabury Hall in OT to repeat as D-II state champions

Feb. 25—Layden Kauka scored 21 of his 24 points after halftime, as Kohala rallied from a 10-point deficit for a 49-45 win Saturday over Seabury Hall in the title game of the Heide & Cook /HHSAA Division II State Championships at Blaisdell Arena.

Layden Kauka scored 21 of his 24 points after halftime, as Kohala rallied from a 10-point deficit for a 49-45 win Saturday over Seabury Hall in the title game of the Heide & Cook /HHSAA Division II State Championships at Blaisdell Arena.

Kauka made the go-ahead free throw with 1 :53 left in overtime, as BIIF champion Kohala (22-2 ) repeated as state champions. The Cowboys have won three of the past four D-II crowns.

"That's a real good team. We had to stay composed. We tried to throw different things at them. I trusted my guys with man to man (defense ), " Cowboys coach Kihei Kapeliela said.

Kauka, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard, faced a tenacious Spartans defense but shot 3-for-7 from deep—way deep—as the Cowboys won despite trailing by 10 in the third quarter. Jayden Hook added 13 points and seven rebounds.

"Jayden and Isaac (Libron ) don't get the name in the paper and stuff like that. The work they do, Isaac on defense pressuring the ball and Jayden controlling the boards. He's undersized in the post and grabs a lot of rebounds, " Kapeliela said. "We put Isaac on Bromo (Dorn ) at the end because I could see Layden was fine, but he wasn't moving laterally as much. Layden hit some huge shots in the clutch. I'm proud of them. I love them."

Kauka and his brother Landon, a senior guard, provided much of the stabilizing influence on a reloaded Kohala squad.

"This is the last time playing with my brother, " Layden Kauka said.

"We just love the game. We love to get better and we want to get to the next level, " he said. "This is special. I told my brother I love him. I got to win one last time with him."

Dorn led Seabury Hall with 18 points on 6-for-21 shooting. He also had eight rebounds and two steals. Kobe Garcia tallied 11 points and ran the point against fullcourt pressure. Sebastian Peterson overcame an early-game injury due to a slip on the slick court and chipped in seven points and eight rebounds.

MIL champion Seabury Hall closed a superlative season with a 25-3 record. The Spartans led for the first 25 minutes and 7 seconds. A shot here or there and it could have been the school's first state title in boys basketball. They lost in the championship game against University in 2016.

"It definitely hurts a lot. These boys worked really hard. Unfortunately, it didn't work out the way we thought it would. It's a great group of guys, definitely some seniors on this team I'm going to miss dearly as they graduate. Their heart. They lead by example. They work tirelessly. Everything I needed, they would do. They always believed in the process and I'm going to miss that. It's hard to find."

With the game at 45-all at the end of regulation, the opening moments of extra time were a string of offensive fouls until Layden Kauka drew contact on a drive and hit one of two free throws with 1 :53 to go in OT.

Peterson missed a tough bank shot, but a fatigued Layden Kauka was called for a 10-second violation while dribbling the ball upcourt. Seabury Hall got the ball back with 1 :25 on the clock.

Dorn missed his patented foul-line jump shot, and Layden Kauka drained a pull-up baseline jumper with 31 seconds to go for a 48-45 cushion.

Dorn missed an NBA-length 3, and Layden Kauka rebounded but threw the ball away under pressure. Keahi Sjostrand was fouled inadvertently by Hook with 12 seconds left.

Sjostrand missed both shots and Wilson rebounded. He was fouled and missed both free throws with 9.4 seconds left. Hook, with the big vertical leap, came down with the offensive rebound.

Hook sank his first foul shot for a 49-45 lead with 7.2 seconds left. He missed the second, Peterson missed an off-balance 3 in the final seconds, and Kohala repeated as Division II state champions.