Over the course of three days at the prestigious Section 7 tournament, the ‘Iolani boys basketball team proved that it couldn’t just hang with the best, but that it could beat the best as well.
The Raiders went 2-2 after playing a total of four games on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
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In the first game, the Raiders were edged 56-52 by Arizona powerhouse St. Mary’s despite leading for the majority of the game. In its second game, ‘Iolani fell to Utah powerhouse Bingham 66-49, which is where current University of Hawaii wing Samuta Avea played his junior season of high school basketball.
‘Iolani closed out Saturday with a 40-34 victory over California’s JSerra Catholic, then finished tournament play with a 54-43 victory over Colorado’s Smoky Hill on Sunday.
The clear standout of the tournament for ‘Iolani was sophomore guard JJ Mandaquit. Statistics were not kept during the tournament, but Raiders coach Ryan Hirata estimated Mandaquit scored approximately 25 points in the team’s opener and over 30 in the tournament finale.
Mandaquit, considered a generational talent as far as guards from Hawaii are concerned, entered the week with scholarship offers from Chaminade and Portland. Exiting the week, he added Hawaii and Washington State to his list of offers, with a bevy of other West Coast schools tracking his progress and approaching him after the final game. Additionally, 2018-2019 national champions Virginia are known to be heavily interested in Mandaquit.
In addition to Mandaquit, Hirata says UH baseball commit Mana Lau Kong, also a 6-foot-7 post player for the Raiders, had an impressive week.
After becoming the first team from Hawaii to play in Section 7, Hirata says the Raiders are certainly open to coming back if invited again. With Mandaquit and Lau Kong just sophomores, Hirata’s program figures to be well-stocked in talent for years to come.
‘Iolani’s 2022-2023 season will officially begin in the winter. The Raiders will also host the ‘Iolani Classic in mid-December, which is expected to bring in a variety of nationally ranked programs, as per usual with the annual tournament.