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No. 2 Saint Louis rolls by No. 1 Punahou to win ILH basketball title

Feb. 13—Stone Kanoa scored 15 points and Pupu Sepulona had 13 as Saint Louis stunned top seed Punahou 60-42 to capture the Interscholastic League of Honolulu boys basketball championship on Monday night at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

Stone Kanoa scored 15 points and Pupu Sepulona had 13 as Saint Louis stunned top seed Punahou 60-42 to capture the Interscholastic League of Honolulu boys basketball championship on Monday night at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

This is the third straight league title for Saint Louis. The Crusaders edged Maryknoll on Saturday, 36-34, on a last-second layup by Jordan Nunuha to claim the ILH's second state-tourney berth. On Monday, they took an early 7-0 lead and never trailed, opening the lead to 18 points in the third quarter with mostly reserves on the floor. The visitors' largest lead was 24 points.

"The guys could've said, we're in states and that's good, but they just want to keep growing as a team and really see how close they can be, " Crusaders coach Dan Hale said. "Punahou is a very good team. They can cut your lead fast, but we hung in there. When the state tournament comes, we've got to be ready with everything we've got. It's not always pretty, but they do what we ask them to do."

Like every defense, Punahou keyed on Sepulona, which left Kanoa open.

"My boy, Stone, he brought something big to the table. That was the game plan for me. I know their defensive plan against me, " Sepulona said. "When I get double-teamed, I just have to find my open players. That's what I've got to do coming into the state tournament."

Caelan Fernando added 12 points as the Crusaders went 4-0 in the span of seven days to win the crown. The win secures an opening-round bye for two-time defending state champion Saint Louis (24-5 overall ) at the Heide &Cook /HHSAA State Championships, which begin on Monday.

Point guard Shancin Revuelto brought order to the Saint Louis attack and scored seven points despite an overnight bout with food poisoning. Saint Louis shot 52 % from the field (24-for-46 ) against Punahou's man-to-man defense.

Despite an illness, James Taras led Punahou (20-6 overall ) with 17 points. He regurgitated on the court during the first quarter, but recovered and played through the rest of the game. Ayndra Uperesa-Thomas added 12 points, but was stymied in the first half. The 6-foot-3 senior had three points on 1-for-5 shooting from the field in the first 16 minutes.

The Crusaders got a big boost from their bench, which played ample minutes in the third quarter while center Jordan Posiulai sat with three fouls and Sepulona enjoyed some rare rest time. With their two bigs on the pine, Saint Louis opened the lead to 18 points, stunning a packed house.

While Saint Louis played its fourth game in seven days, regular-season winner Punahou had not played a game since Jan. 25—an 18-day gap.

"We've got to control what we can control. We can't control the schedule. We've got to clean up a lot of stuff. We didn't play our best today. A lot of unforced turnovers and they capitalized on it, " Buffanblu coach Darren Matsuda said. "Saint Louis is kind of running on all cylinders right now."

The multitude of games worked in the Crusaders' favor, apparently.

"I'm sure the layoff didn't help them. We had a week off and we rolled right into games, which was good for us, " Hale said. "We got a little tired tonight, but we've got a lot of guys. We can juggle them. We've grown as a team, and that's really what it's all about. We're playing together as a team and this is when you want to be doing that. The timing is good."

The Crusaders opened a 13-3 lead in the first quarter while Punahou seemed to be a step behind after the long layoff. Kanoa scored on three layups, all on pinpoint passes from Keanu Meacham. Corey Bailey's breakaway layup gave the Crusaders a 10-point cushion going into the second quarter.

A tough bank shot by Sepulona opened the lead to 15-3 early in the second quarter for the Crusaders.

Saint Louis led 24-15 at halftime.

Fernando, a guard, crashed the offensive glass for an and-1 play, and after Meacham found Kanoa open for a fourth time to get an easy basket, the visitors had a commanding 47-23 lead early in the fourth quarter.