Roosevelt’s Brooks joins elite company

Roosevelt's Taylor Brooks (2) had full command of the ball against Hawaii Prep.
Roosevelt’s Taylor Brooks (2) had full command of the ball against Hawaii Prep.

Roosevelt’s Taylor Brooks scored on Hawaii Prep Academy on Thursday in the HHSAA/Stanford Carr Development water polo state championship quarterfinals. And scored and scored some more until the Rough Riders not only had a win, but some rarefied air for the senior in the 14-4 victory.

The 5-foot-9 senior attacker tallied nine goals, more than all but one other player in the history of the tournament (winners bracket games only). A former Rough Rider, Rachel Kamai, had 11 goals in a 19-5 first-round victory over Baldwin in 2011.

“I think it was our best game by far, throughout the whole years I’ve been playing,” Brooks said. “I think we really stepped it up this game. We all really wanted it, and we were playing really good. Not just as a team, but as a family, more like.”

Inside, outside, off a pass, on breakaways. Brooks did it every which way with some well-managed aggression. By the second quarter, she felt like she and her team had it rolling. They led 7-2 at halftime and put their collective foot down on Ka Makani in the second half. April Gomes added four goals and Rayna Miranda one.

“I just think we were really on the same page,” Brooks said. “It’s not just me. It’s my teammates just as much. Me getting the goal is not just me getting the goal. It’s everybody who gets the pass there. It’s who gets open, that is reading me where I am, is placing it where I need it. It’s not just me getting the goals.”

To make things more remarkable, Brooks, who signed with Division II Sonoma State a couple weeks ago, went scoreless in Roosevelt’s 8-4 first-round win over Waialua on Monday.

“Monday, my head just wasn’t in the game,” she said. “I feel like I kind of messed up my teammates, too. If we’re not all on the same page, we kind of fall apart. It’s not one person, or two, or three. It’s everyone out there on the field. So going into this game we all just really had the goal of, we want to be one of the best and we don’t want people second-guessing us.”

Riders coach Susan Nishioka was proud of Brooks for the way she shared the ball in addition to being a dominant scorer.

“She actually was very unselfish, dishing out the ball,” the coach said. “She was looking around and if she felt somebody else had a better shot, she dished it out. … Sometimes she gets in a mode, but this time she played a little calmer.”

She rated it “probably” Brooks’ best game this season.

“We just asked everybody to play to their potential,” Nishioka said. “Because Monday’s game, or the OIA championship game (9-8 double-overtime loss to Kahuku) they didn’t play to their potential. And this is what they’re capable of when everybody’s in sync with each other.”

Brooks also had a seven-goal game in a 14-4 win against Waialua in the 2016 first round.

A detailed list of state goals leaders (career, tournament, game) resides here.

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It was all routs in the quarterfinals. Kamehameha began the day with a comfortable 10-4 win over third-seeded Baldwin of the MIL. Payton Bosque scored three times, giving her seven goals for the tournament, and 23 state goals for her career — moving her into a tie for fifth all-time with Kamehameha’s Brittney Garrigan.

That turned out to be the closest game of the day, as second-seeded Kahuku routed Kealakehe 14-2 to set up a Kahuku-Kamehameha semifinal for the third straight year (the Warriors won the last two years).

Kahuku's Izzy Walker took control of the ball against Kealakehe. // Photo by Jamm Aquino, Star-Advertiser.
Kahuku’s Izzy Walker took control of the ball against Kealakehe. // Photo by Jamm Aquino, Star-Advertiser.

And Punahou dispatched Lahainaluna 17-1 in a game that Buffanblu coach Ken Smith deployed his reserves for much of the action. The nine-time defending champs get Roosevelt in the semifinals for the second straight year; they won 17-2 last time.

“Punahou, they’ve won a lot of state championships. But I’m just hoping we can give them a run for their money,” Brooks said. “Get them tired out. Hopefully they give us enough respect to where they won’t put their second string in. … Hopefully we can give them a challenge.”

Roosevelt has most of its team back from its loss to the Buffanblu last year, a season more seasoned.

Said Nishioka: “I don’t mind playing Punahou. They’re overwhelming, but it gives everyone a chance to challenge themselves and see how far they’ve gotten.”

It’s Kahuku-Kamehameha at 5:15 p.m. Friday at the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex, followed by Punahou-Roosevelt at 6:30.

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