UpCountry Kings win Merv Lopes Kaua‘i Hoops Classic

PUHI — No. 3 seed UpCountry Kings took the title of the Merv Lopes Kaua‘i Hoops Classic with a 40-28 win over No. 4 seed AAU-Kaua‘i, Saturday.

Top seeded Hanakila finished in third place with a 46-43 win over No. 2 seed Aiea Blazers at the Wilcox Gymnasium at Island School.

Brandon Lee dropped a bucket with 38 seconds to give the Aiea Blazers a 43-41 lead.

But the tenacious Hanakila, coached by Philip Baclayon, would not give up, its blackshirts chasing the ball as the clock whittled down on the third place game.

Battling the clock and the quick passing of the Blazer blueshirts, Hanakila doggedness gained control and forced overtime play when Keliikoa Baclayon gave fans their money’s worth, calmly dropping the opener of a charity pair, but keeping the fans on the edge of their seats as his second shot bounced high off the rim before dropping in with 2.4 ticks showing on the clock.

Marlon Cudiamat dropped the opener of a one-and-one in the sudden death overtime, the first team to score three points being declared the winner.

Aiea inbounded the ball, but its shot came up empty and Matthew Cummings, on a nice breakaway, dropped the bucket for the 46-43 win.

“This is the third overtime win in three days,” coach Phil Baclayon said. “Thursday night we had an overtime win, three points coming from free throws. Then, Friday we had another overtime win and this one makes three in as many days.”

Hanakila got the top seed after finishing pool play 4-0, Friday, but in its playoff against AAU-Kaua‘i, came up short, 25-22, sending the top seeded squad to the third place playoff.

UpCountry Kings upset No. 2 Aiea, 41-30 to advance to the championship bracket.

Cummings finished the match with 19 points followed by Keliikoa Baclayon and Bryson Nacapuy netting six points each. Cudiamat added five points, including the critical OT free throw and James Stevens and Christian Roslin each finished with four points.

Aiea got nine points from Tylor Canon followed by Lee and Benjamin Sakai each adding seven points. Bronson Lee added six points, Aryn Antonio finished with five and Tysen Hickcox’s four points rounded out the leaderboard.

Unfortunately, the Kaua‘i winning streak did not hold for the championship game as the UpCountry Kings from Maui surged ahead of AAU-Kaua‘i to clinch the tournament title with a 40-28 win.

Aaron Manoogan dropped three balls from outside the three-point arc en route to his game-high 15 points followed by Preston Masanda adding 13 points including a three-ball in the second quarter.

La‘akea Gonsalves, Charles Apuna and Erin Lindsey each added four points in the Maui team’s victory.

Duke Yadao topped the AAU effort with eight points followed by guard Tystin Gummerus adding five points. Kalawai‘a Judd and Devan Ferreira each netted four points, Kelson Andraded ended with three points and Kainoa Simao and Solomone Manupule each had pairs.

“Each of the teams in the tournament played at least six games over four days,” said coach Clarence Sales of Team Central Basketball, host for the tournament. “We were lucky we could get the visiting teams because the purpose of the tournament is to allow our kids to play someone other than people they play normally.”

Sales said with the success of this tournament for Grades 8 and 9 players, Team Central is thinking of adding another higher category, Grades 10 and 11, for next year’s tournament.

“We’re also looking at possibly doing a ‘Big Man’ clinic with coach Lopes,” Sales said.

Lopes, a former basketball coach for Chaminade University, made history in December, 1982, by leading the Silverswords, described by Sports Illustrated as a “little NAIA school in Honolulu,” over No. 1 ranked Virginia, 77-72 in one of the biggest upsets in college basketball.

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