Two-time defending girls hoops champion ‘Iolani overwhelms Kamehameha

Pre-game warmups are a rare occurrence in the 2020-21 basketball season for two-time defending state champion ‘Iolani. The Raiders didn’t miss a beat in a 71-32 exhibition win over Kamehameha on Friday. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser

Kamehameha is good. ‘Iolani is simply off the chart.

The Raiders showed their prowess on Friday night, showing their championship pedigree in a 71-32 exhibition win over the Warriors at Father Bray Athletic Center. Senior Alexandra Huntimer poured in 17 points to lead ‘Iolani, the back-to-back girls basketball state champion.

In the nightcap, the Kamehameha boys hung on for a 53-47 overtime win over ‘Iolani. The two programs will meet on Saturday at Kekuhaupio Gym. The boys game will begin at 10 a.m., followed by the girls at noon.

In the opener, returning Star-Advertiser All-State player of the year Lily Wahinekapu scored 14 of her 17 points in the second half. Kyra Tanabe added eight points, Haylie Ohta tallied seven, and Alexis Huntimer and Abby Tanaka chipped in six points each. As always, ‘Iolani’s man-to-man defense was rugged, and the transition game was a blur. Alexis Huntimer, who goes by “Jo” with friends, was seemingly at the right place at the right time all game long. The right pass. The right shot. The timely rebound.

During pre-game, starting-lineup introductions, it was revealed that Wahinekapu will play for Cal State Fullerton next season.

Camille Feary led Kamehameha with nine points. Alize Pratt had seven points and Adrianna Arquette hustled for a team-high five rebounds. They get another shot at the Raiders on Saturday.

“They are all great players. Super talented and determined,” said Feary, who will play at Southern Oregon next season. “We will play with confidence and grit. We just need to put this game behind us and not get so down on ourselves. If we keep our heads up the entire game, whether we’re leading or down, it’ll help us to make less mistakes.”

Alexandra Huntimer poured in 17 points for the ‘Iolani Raiders in a 71-32 exhibition win over Kamehameha. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser
Lily Wahinekapu scored 17 points in the win. She is bound for Cal State Fullerton next season. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser

The visiting Warriors, coming off wins over Hawaii Baptist and Hanalani, led early. Briefly. The home team patiently worked against Kamehameha’s 2-3 matchup zone and began to strike from afar.

Tanaka’s left-wing 3 broke a 5-all tie for the Raiders, who led 10-5 entering the second quarter. Alexandra Huntimer began to catch fire, hitting two of her three treys as ‘Iolani opened the lead to 29-16 by intermission.

Jovi Lefotu ignited the second-quarter transition game with a block, coast-to-coast drive and kick-out pass to Huntimer for a corner 3. After Lefotu scored on a feed from Tanaka and hit a floater on another pass from Tanaka, their lead was in double figures.

Tanabe splashed back-to-back treys to open the second half as the Raiders pulled away.

Similar to what Kamehameha did in its first exhibition games last week against Hawaii Baptist, ‘Iolani opted to abstain from media interviews after its first games of the brief exhibition schedule. Like Kamehameha, the Raiders’ play on the hardwood did plenty of talking.

What was different at Father Bray Athletic Center?

>> Eyewear.

The Raiders wear goggles. Racquetball goggles, to be exact. They look rather cool.

Coaches on both teams, as well as everyone on campus, is required to be masked while wearing face shields. The shields get warm after awhile. Necessity of the trade.

>> Natural ventilation

The exit doors are normally closed, but were open for gym activity. The comforts of air conditioning were not affected in this early evening tip-off.

>> Public announcing

Like other games at private schools, players were socially distanced on the bench, but this was one of the few exhibitions to include a public announcer. Starting lineups were announced. The other was at HBA last week. Almost like old times.

>> Crowd noise

Though there were no spectators, the ‘Iolani boys team was in attendance waiting to play the next game. The Raiders were vocal, clapping and chanting “Defense!”

It was simple. It was wondrous.

Like other basketball exhibitions, there was no literal tip-off. The visiting team, Kamehameha, opened the game with possession from the halfcourt sideline.

The boys matchup was a physical, defensive battle. The visiting Warriors led by eight points in the second half before the home team rallied. Regulation ended in a 45-all tie, but Paliku Kamaka scored six of his nine points in the overtime stanza. Cade Trujillo added seven points. Center Xavier Lever led all scorers with 17 points.

Freshman Nela Taliauli led ‘Iolani with 11 points. Zachary Tenn, a standout pitcher on the baseball squad, added nine points.

“ ‘Iolani is always scrappy. They are disciplined and shoot well. It’s always tough to play there,” Warriors Coach Larry Park said. “Our guys battled and found a way to win at the end. ‘Iolani is well coached and prepared. Tomorrow, like tonight, we need to match their energy and intensity.”

Park was at ease with the required face shield on.

“It’s OK. I need to wear it in school when students are in class,” he said.

Elsewhere, Saint Louis outscored Punahou, 71-54, and is now 12-0 in boys basketball exhibition play.


  1. really February 27, 2021 5:28 am

    Just bad coaching by Kamehameha. Sat in a zone allowing over 10-15 three pointers. Head coach never changed the defense until it was too late. Kamehameha had a deeper bench and had been playing but chose to walk the ball up and down the court. No ball pressure. Didn’t play with pace. Can’t run any offense to get their only scorer (#24) clean looks. Defensively can’t figure out who are Iolani’s better scorers. They defend each player the same. No game plan whatsoever. Team has poor shot selection. I could find a better coach from the KBA or PAL League. Very challenging to watch Kamehameha play. Such low level coaching. They barely beat HBA and Hanalani (D2 Teams). They finally face a good D1 team and absolutely get smoked. If there was a season, Kamehameha would go winless in the ILH. They would not beat Iolani, Maryknoll, or Punahou.

  2. Fullcourt February 27, 2021 6:32 am

    Maybe some coaches are taking these games as an opportunity to just have fun with their kids . To let all the kids get have playing time . Not so much as to prove anything else . Just my thoughts

  3. UpKountry February 27, 2021 6:42 am

    Not sure bout the deeper bench but Kam definitely has more kids. Iolani sets it up that way so they don’t have to sub in less talent. Iolani returned 4 seniors that started in the state championships. I think 3 of the 4 also made the fab 15. Kam definitely has less talent with maybe 2 or 3 girls that look like they even can play. I agree with you on the Kam coach lacking experience at their level. Iolani shoots three’s and cuts to the basket. Kam gets out to the shooter slow and has terrible rotation on D.

  4. really February 27, 2021 11:25 pm

    If you are a varsity coach and not using it as a teaching tool to improve. And treating the game as meaningful then why play it? This isn’t YMCA, KBA, or KAC. Many Kamehameha parents feel the same. Lack of development. Poor game planning. Poor game management. Kamehameha should never lose this bad to any Hawaii team.

  5. opinion February 28, 2021 7:08 am

    Is it completely on bad coaching or is the talent level way down also? I don’t care how questionable coaching might be, if talent exists on the team, that team isn’t losing by almost 40 points to another local school. This year more then any other year, restricted coaches from having the time to develop players.

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