Defense helps Moanalua upset Mililani, advance to quarterfinals

Feb. 8—A couple of late-season losses did nothing to dampen Moanalua's confidence.

A couple of late-season losses did nothing to dampen Moanalua's confidence.

Na Menehune was the sixth-place team in the OIA playoffs, the final qualifier for the state tournament. But they made their opportunity pay off with a stunning 60-56 win over Mililani on Monday night.

Mililani (18-5 ) was coming off its first loss in OIA play, falling to Campbell, 50-45, in the league championship game on Wednesday. A week ago, the Trojans had five first-place votes in the Top 10—two more than No. 1 Saint Louis—and were ranked No. 2 statewide.

Moanalua (16-10 overall ) advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Heide & Cook /HHSAA Boys Basketball State Championships and will play Kamehameha-Hawaii today.

Gavin Pommerenk scored 12 points to lead a balanced Moanalua offensive attack. Michael Barcelona and Jerome Williams chipped in eight points while providing key defense.

"We talked in the last three days of practice, defense and rebounding will win us games this week, " Moanalua coach Brandon Dumlao said.

Barcelona and Jeremy Gardner were tasked with the challenge of guarding Mililani sharpshooter Jayden Kipapa.

"We wanted to take Kipapa out completely, face guarded him and made sure he didn't get touches, " Dumlao said.

Kipapa finished with 10 points on 4-for-11 shooting. Creighton Ofsonka scored 12 points, five days after suffering a leg injury in the OIA title game.

"We had to keep him off the glass. He got a few early offensive rebounds, " Dumlao said of Ofsonka. "Our defense was crazy good tonight in the halfcourt. It's definitely a total team effort tonight."

"Jerome Williams dominated the glass tonight. He was cleaning up the boards, cleaning up around the rim. That's the best I've seen him play in two years. And he's super versatile, " Dumlao added. "He guarded (J ) Marxen."

Mililani got the lead down to three points, but never got the lead back through the entire second half.

Dumlao's team went 6-6 through a tough nonconference schedule, then was 3-2 in OIA East play before embarking on a six-game win streak after New Year's Day. After a win over Radford to open the playoffs, Moanalua lost to eventual OIA champ Campbell. A 55-44 win over Kalaheo sealed a state-tournament berth. Moanalua lost the fifth-place game at Kahuku, 69-66.

"It's been a whirlwind trying to figure out the right rotations, what guys are going to give us the edge defensively. I think we've hit a little stride. We lost to Kahuku, but we played really well. A lot of the preseason and regular season, we didn't make the big plays in the fourth quarter, but we made them tonight. I'm definitely proud of the guys for doing that tonight, " Dumlao said.

Moanalua beat Kamehameha-Hawaii, 52-39, on Dec. 8 at the Moanalua Invitational.

"We know Kamehameha-Hawaii has at least two guys who can shoot the ball. They were major problems, so we know what's coming, " Dumlao said. "Coach (Mea ) Wong, I know his teams will come and compete. We've got to play defense the way we did tonight."