Leilehua snaps 36-year title drought, stuns Mililani late in OIA Division I Boys’ Basketball championship

Leilehua snaps 36-year title drought, stuns Mililani late in OIA Division I Boys’ Basketball championship

The Leilehua Mules pose as OIA champions on the hardwood in boys’ basketball for the first time since 1988. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Leilehua snaps 36-year title drought, stuns Mililani late in OIA Division I Boys’ Basketball championship

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 14, 2024

HONOLULU — Long time coming. 

The Leilehua Mules won the program’s second-ever OIA basketball title Wednesday night behind senior Twain Wilson’s 25 points and the last-second heroics of reserve Trystin Stevens, snatching the OIA’s top division championship from the Mililani Trojans in a highly-anticipated rematch from the regular season, 49-48. 

The teams met just over two weeks prior, a sweaty 52-50 victory for Mililani to keep the Trojans unbeaten in league play while handing the Mules their first blemish against their own division all year. Despite the added motivation from falling on January 26, questions remained if the double-overtime win for Leilehua against Kailua on Monday night would prove costly in stamina against fast-paced Mililani.  

It certainly looked like Mililani was the fresher team to open the game as Ezekiel Virtudes found sophomore Timothy Dorn for an emphatic two-hand alley-oop dunk for the game’s first points before the lanky young forward quickly picked up his first block of the night on the other end. Leilehua’s offense sputtered along over the opening eight minutes, shooting a combined 5-of-16 for just 11 points. Luckily for the D1 West’s second-place regular season-finishers, the defensive side of the ball picked up the slack by forcing six Mililani turnovers to keep the Trojans from running away with the game quickly and while sending Leilehua into the second trailing by just two, 13-11.  

Mililani’s Dorn continued to impose his will in the painted area throughout the second quarter, impacting nearly every Leilehua shot attempt with his length as the Mules mustered just five points against the Trojans in the period, going into the break with the deficit from before tripled, 22-16. 

Suddenly, the switch flipped for Leilehua. 

The Mules exploded for 23 points in the third quarter, 15 from Wilson as the senior pushed Leilehua out in front by five by hitting big shot after big shot. The defense continued to strap down the Mililani offense on the other side, holding the Trojans to 12 points over the eight-minute period to flip the game on its head going into the fourth with Leilehua leading 39-34. 

Mililani did not quit, showing off the moxie that they had developed as the program made its third consecutive appearance in the OIA Division I championship game. Dorn provided his best Victor Wembanyama impression, scoring from all three levels while swatting away shot after shot to help tie the game at 46-all with just over a minute to play before Virtudes snatched the lead back for the Trojans with 23 seconds left, dropping home a transition teardrop floater to make it 48-46. 

Despite Mililani’s rapid comeback over the game’s final minutes, Leilehua remained calm trailing by two as head coach Chad Townsend drew up a play to get a look for his top scorer in Wilson. 

When play started, Mililani threw a double-team at Wilson to force the action. Instead of trying to force up a shot over the double, the senior calmly passed off to a wide-open Trystin Stevens in the left corner and Stevens delivered the goods, drilling the go-ahead triple with 5.3 seconds left. 

One last ditch effort resulted in a running three-point try by Dorn at the horn for Mililani, but the shot would fall short as Leilehua won the OIA title in boys’ basketball for the first time since 1988. 

“[Mililani HC Garrett Gabriel] does such a good job, I was running out of ideas of what to do against them … If we played 10 times, we would [win five and lose five] and I really believe that. I have the highest respect for that guy,” Townsend said following the Mules’ win. “Nothing but love for those guys. Very respectful, Mililani’s kids are great kids but I’m just happy that our kids pulled us through.” 

Speaking of great, Dorn solidified his star status among local hoopers in the loss by posting an obscene 20 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks in 29 minutes of action for Mililani. The Trojans’ top three-point shooter Roman Gabriel scratched out 10 points as the junior struggled shooting from the floor, going 0-of-4 from long range. 

Leilehua was led by Twain Wilson’s game-high 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting and 5-of-7 from three-point range while snatching nine boards and handing out four assists. The senior was awarded HSRN’s “YeahU HNL Player of the Game” honor for his performance. Stevens, who hit the biggest shot of the night for the Mules with 5.3 seconds to go, finished the game with seven points off the bench — all of which came in the second half. Tyree Wilson, Twain’s younger brother, added 10 points and two steals in the historic win for Leilehua. 

“It feels unreal,” Townsend expressed when asked about the program’s first title since the 1980s and second total. “Just for the community because as you can see there is such a great community, support to the end … I just couldn’t be more appreciative [of the Leilehua community].”