The streak is over for the nine-time state champion Konawaena Wildcats.
Waiakea put an end to Konawaena’s 124-game win streak in Big Island Interscholastic Federation girls basketball, stifling the Wildcats 54-25 on Thursday night.
“It was senior night for our team, too. As coaches, we were definitely excited,” Waiakea coach Brandon Kauhi said. “We had a good defensive game plan and tonight we hit those outside shots.”
Waiakea made four treys in the game, three of them before halftime.
“That’s a lot for us,” Kauhi said. “We finally put a game together where we made some shots from the outside. We’d been struggling with that.”
If Waiakea, Konawaena and Hilo — each has one loss in BIIF play — run the table with remaining games, the three-way tiebreaker is point differential. Waiakea knew that it had to defeat Konawaena by at least 11 points to gain that edge over the Wildcats and Hilo to possess the top seed for the playoffs.
Waiakea (7-1 BIIF) has three games, all on the road, to close the regular season: Kohala (Jan. 10), Hawaii Prep (Jan. 14) and Keaau (Jan. 22).
Konawaena (8-1) has two more games and Hilo (7-1) has three more. Waiakea will clinch first place by winning those three remaining games. If all three teams run the, Waiakea is in line to play Keaau in the D-I semifinals while Hilo and Konawaena would face each other in the other semifinal, essentially an elimination match.
The BIIF’s two finalists will qualify for the state tournament. Normally, the regular-season winner would claim one of the state berths, but Kauhi said he has been informed that there will be no automatic berth in the case of a three-way tie.
A capacity crowd at Warriors Gymnasium saw the home team put restraints on Konawaena’s top guns from start to finish.
“It was a packed house, the most I’ve seen at a girls game at Waiakea,” Kauhi said.
No. 9 Waiakea got 16 points from senior guard Zaelynn Lui-Cabinatan and 11 from junior swingman Kelsi Imai. Waiakea led-fifth-ranked Konawaena 10-0 after one quarter and 28-9 at halftime.
The yeoman’s work was done by the defenders in Waiakea’s version of a triangle-and-two defense, Kauhi said.
That relentless defensive effort limited Konawaena’s All-State Fab 15 senior, Caiyle Kaupu, to two points.
“Our biggest goal was to take away their top two scorers. We had a mixture of Keeli-Jade (Smith) and Bethany (Honma) on Kaupu. We would front her. They never really had opportunities,” Kauhi said. “We denied her fully. When she did get shots, a lot of them were forced.
Konawaena’s outstanding freshman guard, Kaliana Salazar Harrell finished with just five points.
“We had Claire (Kaneshiro), Destynee (Williams) and Keighsha (Walker) rotating on her,” Kauhi added. “(Salazar Harrell) was frustrated. She hallad a lot of forced shots.”
Waiakea’s other defenders packed into the paint, though Konawaena sharpshooter Kayla Pak always had another defender within arm’s length,” Kauhi noted.