It’s not often that a center handles the ball on the wing, the top and even the backcourt with regularity.
For Moli Heimuli, playing all but 3 minutes or so was just another tough night at the gym. The 5-foot-11 senior was ready and able, pounding the low post, crashing the offensive boards and running the break for 35 points and 26 rebounds in a tougher-than-the-score-indicates 60-45 win over visiting Kalani on Tuesday night.
“She’s getting used to staying in. That’s something I told her she can expect,” Farrington coach Caroline Tatupu said.
The left-hander shot 17-for-22 from the field (77 percent) and seven of her boards were on the offensive glass. She also had three blocks and three assists, and shot 3-for-3 at the free-throw line. Four of her five turnovers were in the final quarter, when fatigue was clearly a factor, but she never asked for a break.
“It started off with practice. The way we practice is the way we perform,” she said.
The Lady Falcons did what they could to slow Heimuli, but she ran on the break and at times was the ballhandler in transition making beautiful feeds to open teammates, including a 50-foot bounce pass to Shayla Cabato-Machado in stride for a layup.
“The plan was to run when we got a chance,” Tatupu said. “We did fairly well, minus a few turnovers.”
Farrington committed 19 giveaways against Kalani’s fullcourt pressure. Most of it was the result of rushed passes. In halfcourt offense against Kalani’s 2-3 zone, Heimuli was usually contested, but seemingly could not miss, especially with her hook shot inside 5 feet.
Still, Kalani rallied from a 15-point deficit to tie the game at 37 on two foul shots by Kandyce Woods with 4:21 left in the third quarter. The Falcons got the ball back with a chance to take the lead, but missed a 3-point shot, and it was all Farrington after that.
In a different world, Kalani may have pulled the ball out and forced Farrington out of its 2-3 zone.
“The plan was the get them out,” Falcons coach Chi Mok said. “Nobody really wants to play us man-to-man. I’ve got shooters, so a lot of times I close my mouth. I don’t want them to go into a shell.”
The discipline it requires to play uptempo and pull back at will is not always common. Mok noted an instance when he directed his team to hold for the last shot of the quarter. One of the Falcons instead gunned a 3 long before the buzzer.
Meanwhile, Farrington took its chances and stayed in the 2-3 zone, matching up best it could with Kalani’s bombers, including Kristin Kouchi. She finished 3-for-9 from deep for 10 points. As a team, the Falcons shot 6-for-23 from the arc, a percentage that Tatupu was willing to accept, especially with a 51-18 edge in rebounding.
Now the Govs are 7-1 with an inside track to a first-round bye in the OIA Division I playoffs.
“It’s up to them. Our goal is to make the playoffs,” Tatupu said. “I hope we peak at the right time.”
Heimuli is confident about her team’s chance to win an OIA title. The Govs have heard the stories from Tatupu and assistant coach, former all-state Fab 15 guard Brydgette Tatupu-Leopoldo.
“We’re looking forward,” Heimuli said. “I’ll say it’s us. We can win the championship.”
Kalani, with its second loss in a row after opening OIA play with seven victories, remains the favorite to capture the D-II crown.