The Pu‘uloa Bandits captured the title of the Kaua‘i Youth Basketball Association goodwill tournament with a 55-49 win over Kalepa Hillsiders, Saturday.
Kaua‘i Basketball got 19 points from Ryan Merkle and 15 points from Braxton Garma to spark a 65-36 showing over the Gee Unit for third place in the three-day tournament. Winston Gee led the Gee Unit effort with 13 points.
Kekoa Colipano finished with 11 points to lead the Warriors to a 50-29 showing over Ikaika Basketball for fifth place. Ryoji Iguchi led the visiting Ikaika with 9 points.
Brendan Nakatani finished with 22 points and Reyn Sugai added a dozen points to lead the Hornets to a 43-38 edge over Waimea which got 13 points from Malcolm Carter and 11 points from Kalen Abihai.
Carter and Nakatani were both named to the MVP squad following the tournament.
They join Merkle, who was the MVP for Kaua‘i Basketball; Joe Duronslet, who was selected from the Gee Unit; Mike Makinano, who got the nod from the Bandits; and Willis Batol, from the Kalepa Hillsiders.
Makinano, enjoying a hot hand in three-pointland, finished the championship game tied with Travis Stine at 18 points, including five treys.
On the opening night, Makinano finished with 11 3-point shots in 12 attempts, said one of the Bandits’ team moms who was washing out the team’s uniforms at the ‘Ele‘ele Shopping Center laundromat in preparation for the championship game, Saturday.
“We’re very honored to be here,” the team mom said. “This has been a tremendous experience for the boys because for some of them, they’ve never been off-island before this. This is a big deal for them and a good experience.”
The team mom said Makinano has had a tough life and will be going on to play basketball in college due to the efforts of the community club and coach Ken Tangjian.
“Without the Bandits and coach Ken, he never would have had a chance,” she said.
Patrick Ward finished with 15 points to help Makinano. And Christian Manuel added 10 points to round out the Bandits’ double-digit scorers.
“We lost our big man due to an injury Friday night,” said Bandits’ coach Tangjian, a Kaua‘i native who was born in Koloa. “But all we can do is charge.”
That injury left the seven-member traveling team with just six playing members, and that was enough as all six players contributed to the scoring.
Fueled by Makanano, who scored 16 of his game total in the first half, the Bandits held a 34-20 halftime lead, but the Hillsiders came back to outscore Pu‘uloa 29-20 in the second half to trim the margin down to the 6-point final deficit.
Stine and John Beralas paced the second-half Kalepa comeback with 8 points apiece.
Beralas finished with 10 points followed by Kaleo Cummings adding 7 points for the Hillsiders.