The HBA boys varsity basketball team can once again call itself the ILH Champions.
HBA defeated Hanalani 68-56 at Dan Liu Gymnasium on February 3, laying claim to their first title since 2015 and their fifth since 1987 (HBA also won ILH boys basketball titles in 1995, 1996 and 2009).
Led by first-year head coach Kellen Kaneshiro ‘00, the Eagles used pressure defense and timely shooting to hold off the Royals. HBA outscored Hanalani in each quarter to improve to 9-0 in ILH Division-2 (The Eagles would finish the regular season 10-1 in league play and 13-3 overall).
"All season long, I have felt we need to play with pressure and pace in order to be successful", said Kaneshiro. "We want to put a lot of defensive pressure in the full court and push the ball up the court on offense and attack the basket."
Leading the way for the Eagles was senior Gabe McTee, who scored a game high 18 points. Fellow seniors Austin Fujikawa and Mark Fujimoto contributed 12 points apiece. The Royals were led by juniors Christian Yagin and Tanner Kimura, who scored 17 points and 10 points, respectively.
The game featured runs by both teams. HBA jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter. However, Hanalani went on an 18-7 run spanning the end of the first quarter and start of the second quarter. Down 18-15 early in the second quarter, the Eagles went on a 12-1 spurt to regain an eight point advantage, 27-19. Sparking the run was Fujimoto, who made a steal and hit two 3-pointers.
Following intermission, HBA used a 12-0 run to take their largest lead of the game at 49-31 with 4:27 left in the third quarter. But Hanalani responded by finishing the quarter on yet another run - this time 12-1 - to pull within seven points at 50-43.
In the final quarter, the Royals used three-pointers by Yagin (2) and freshman Kahikina Keaulana to stay close. But clinging to a six point lead, the Eagles closed the game with a final 12-6 run initiated by steals and layups by McTee and sophomore Eli Shibuya. Senior Joe Fung and Shibuya also converted on both ends of one-and-one free throw opportunities to help seal the game.
For Kaneshiro, a 2000 HBA graduate - who himself was the ILH Division-2 Player of the Year as a senior - the title has special meaning. "I lost in the championship game my junior and senior years, so this is very satisfying." He added, "I am extremely happy for all of our players, but especially our seniors. They missed out on an entire year of their basketball careers. The success they have had this season is a nice reward for their hard work and perseverance."
Other boys team members are seniors Ben Chang, Toby Kim, Evan Yoshishige and Kaulana Lanai, juniors Connor Takemoto, Trent Mitchell, Jordon Qin and Jackson Lincoln, sophomore Preston Gonzalez, and freshmen Matthew Shigetani and Kai Toyofuku.
The team is coached by Kaneshiro ‘00, HBA parent Leighton Mitchell, Bryce Zukemura and Ty Minatoya ‘17.