BELL.—The Akira Komai Memorial NAU Playoffs completed its 2018 season on Sunday with four games at Bell High School.
A combined thirteen points separated the first three games. In Aye Minor, Blazers bested OC Imprint, 70-64. Westside Bears captured the Aye Major title, 62-60, over SBB Tigers. FOR Magic slipped ahead of Entourage, 72-67, in the SoCal Aye Plus finale. AA featured the only blow-out of the day, Yellow Storm trumped Ironmen, 97-76.
AA . . .
The Yellow Storm lightning attack was topped by Jon Chu’s 21 points, Alex Mak’s 19 and Jarrod Carroll’s 17. Their teammate Mark Nitake controlled the tempo and seemed to be a one-man double-team of Ironmen post players. He was named the game’s MVP. He scored 15 points and was their second leading rebounder with 9 caroms.
Storm made 45.5% of their shots from the field, including 12 for 27 from 3-point range. By comparison, Ironmen sank 46% of their shots but only 6 of 24 from beyond the arc.
The YS defense kept Ironmen off-balance through most of the game, forcing difficult shots. While on their end, Storm had good rotation and ball movement and their players made key isolation baskets.
A quick 7-point burst in the closing minutes of the first half built a 51-39 Storm lead. At the start of the second half, Ironmen came out aggressively but Storm turned everything around for six lay-ups to increase the lead to 76-50.
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A+ . . .
Trailing by nine points in the second half, FOR Magic cast a darkness spell on Entourage, out-scoring their opponents 20-2 and took control of the Aye Plus championship game.
It was 57-48, Entourage, with 7:44 left. Magician Justin Hays scored six straight points. Matt Matsunaga and sank lay-ups and Jordan Hiroshima a floater to tie the game at 60-all. Triples by Jon Yonemine and Hiroshima gave Magic the lead. Fts by Hays capped off the run, 68-60, with 1:59 left in the game.
Entourage showed their offense for over 32m., with Sean Stroud and Noah Muronaka hitting for 19 and 18 points. Damon Wong and Nelson Muronaka both added 13.
Hays was the FOR leader, scoring 22 points but also controlling their tempo. Yonemine made five treys and finished with 18 points. Hiroshima and Bryan Peralta contributed 12 and 10.
Magic out-rebounded Entourage, 39 to 32. The boards and hustle plays allowed FOR to attempt 74 shots. Entourage shot a terrific 48.9% from the floor but they only could manage 47 field goal attempts.
Entourage used their shooting skills to control the first half. They led 41-33 at the break. Until they tired, Entourage matched FOR basket for basket in the second half.
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A Major . . .
In a game that went down to the wire, Westside Bears slipped by SBB Tigers, 62-60. As the clock wound down, both teams felt the pressure of keeping their perfect records intact.
Tigers rode the broad shoulders of Josh Staffieri who amassed 25 points on 8 of 16 shooting and grabbed 16 rebounds, 7 of them offensive.
Bears relied on their leader Ryan Iwamoto to keep them in the game. He made numerous difficult shots en route to 24 points.
Staffieri got Tigers on the board early and often as he powered through a single defender. SBB led 12-4. Iwamoto found his touch to keep Westsiders from falling further behind. Travis Fukumoto drove for a deuce then sank a trey, giving Tigers a halftime lead of 36-28.
Bears started doubling Staffieri and 2m. into the second half, Westsiders charged. Jason Smith joined Iwamoto and a three-point bomb by James Woo tied the game at 42-all. Woo’s fts gave Bears the lead, 44-42 and 12:11 remaining.
Over the next 6m., Staffieri kept up his relentless play. It took the entire Westside team to match him. Bears had their largest lead, 59-53, with 4:05 left, when Randy Shiozaki sank a fall away jumper from the key.