Basketball champions Maseno School have two goals: Win games and extend the playing time for some of their reserves.
The national secondary schools boys’ champions showed it was possible to accomplish both in a 109-27 victory over Kangaru School, setting up a semi-final tie against Nairobi’s Upper Hill, who came from 26-37 down at half time to defeat Friends School Kamusinga 63-56.
In the other semi-final, East Africa champions Laiser Hill, who defeated Nyeri High School 88-32, meet Kamusinga.
Despite sitting out both Samuel Opel and George Okoth in the second and fourth quarters, Maseno were never seriously threatened by the Eastern Province side.
“We desperately needed a win,” said Opel, whose team will be looking to retain the title, should they go past the stubborn Upper Hill team.
“We’re trying to close out the championship on a positive note.”
If that’s going to happen, the Paul Otula’s boys are going to need more performances like they got against Kangaru.
It was clear early in the match that James Aduke was looking to make sure that no one else would come into these championships and steal the show.
Not only was it clear to the fans, but the players noticed, too.
The towering forward opened the game with eight first-quarter points, and ended up with 24 and 10 rebounds, while George Okoth added 19 and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Opel, Tombush Wamukoya and Claude Musalia were also among six Maseno players in double figures.
The fact that Aduke chose to take the scoring into his own hands wasn’t surprising - that is, after all, how he plays the game.
But his aggressiveness in attacking the rim was certainly something different, and his multiple slam dunks - including one where he narrowly avoided a chase-down block from Jonathan Kizito - were certainly a pleasant surprise. Aduke’s first dunk of the morning might have been his best: a powerful windmill, two-handed slam that he was able to throw down after beating Simon Raymond baseline off the dribble.
He then pointed to the young players on the bench as the reason for his unusually dunk-heavy performance.
Scoring, rebounding, high-flying slam dunks - Aduke had it all working in this one.
Kangaru School were in constant confusion and made mistake after mistake, often in glaring fashion, with Kizito shouting at teammates, seemingly after every one.
Some passes went into the stands, shots weren’t falling and there was little hustle. Not exactly the kind of performances the team from Eastern wanted in the last group match.