Punahou water polo wins 12th straight, shows no signs of stopping

Punahou water polo players celebrated their 11-3 title victory over Kamehameha on Saturday. / Photo by Steven Erler, Special to the Star-Advertiser

The inner fire of Punahou cannot be quenched in this water-based sport.

Just look at Buffanblu coach Ken Smith, the 72-year-old who was a relatively young man (61) when this run of state water polo championships began in 2008. Smith nimbly leaped into the Kamehameha pool Saturday night with a push-assist from his players after they made it 12 straight for the program —— and 14 out of 16 since the Stanford Carr Development/HHSAA competition began — with an 11-3 win over the Warriors.

“It’s still there,” Smith said of his passion for coaching. “And it’s because of them (the players). If they didn’t have the passion, I would’ve got out of this thing. But they bring it and they help fuel mine.”


Junior Christina Hicks, the tournament’s most outstanding player, scored 13 goals over three matches — five on Saturday. Thirteen is what she and her cohorts will shoot for next season. Punahou returns 17 of 19 on its roster.

The all-tournament team:
#3 Josie Mobley, Punahou
#4 Dillyn Lietzke, Punahou
#11 Shaye Story, Kamehameha
#19 Emma Kim, Kamehameha
#16 Erin Patterson, Kaiser
#16 Kaya Lee, Punahou
Goalkeeper: #1 Sarah Perez, Punahou
Most Outstanding Player: #2 Christina Hicks, Punahou

Hicks rightfully commanded plenty of attention, which helped set up her teammates. Victoria Gacutan scored twice and Josie Mobley, Sierra Smart, Mallory Meister and Dillyn Lietzke added goals.

A six-goal second quarter allowed the Buffanblu to separate as they’ve done so many times over this run.

Sarah Perez, the senior goalkeeper who was 3-for-3 in stopping penalty shots Saturday, sees no stop in the underclassmen.

“They’re hard workers. They have everything, the motivation, the passion, everything they want to achieve in the next 13 years, hopefully next year,” Perez said. “They’re going to be completely fine. They’ve got it.”

As for Kamehameha, first-year Warriors coach Anthony Cabrera loses some great players but will have a junior-to-be to build around in Shaye Story.

“We have Shaye coming back, and that’s a great centerpiece to work around,” Cabrera said. “Got some good defenders coming back. Gotta improve a little bit on the offensive side, especially our perimeter shooting. But I’m excited. I’m ready to get back to work, get back in the pool for the summer.”

A few more photos:

Punahou players pushed coach Ken Smith into the Kamehameha pool. / Photo by Steven Erler, Special to the Star-Advertiser

Punahou’s Christina Hicks tossed a goal past the attempted block from Kamehameha’s Emma Kim. / Photo by Steven Erler, Special to the Star-Advertiser
Punahou players accepted their trophy. / Photo by Steven Erler, Special to the Star-Advertiser
Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1April 29King Kekaulike vs. RooseveltRoos, 9-2Kihei
2April 29Kahuku vs. LeilehuaKah, 6-2Kamehameha
3April 29Hawaii Prep vs. MoanaluaHPA, 5-4Kamehameha-Hawaii
4April 29Kamehameha vs. KapoleiKSK, 14-2Kamehameha
5May 2(4) KS-Hawaii vs. KahukuKSH, 9-8Kamehameha
6May 2(3) Baldwin vs. KamehamehaKSK, 12-8Kamehameha
7May 2(2) Kaiser vs. Hawaii PrepKais, 9-3Kamehameha
8May 2(1) Punahou vs. RooseveltPun, 15-5Kamehameha
9*May 3Baldwin vs. Hawaii PrepHPA, 7-3Kamehameha
10*May 3Kahuku vs. RooseveltRoos, 7-4Kamehameha
11May 3Kamehameha vs. KaiserKSK, 9-4Kamehameha
12May 3KS-Hawaii vs. PunahouPun, 18-4Kamehameha
13*May 4Hawaii Prep vs. RooseveltRoos, 6-4Kamehameha
14*May 4Kaiser vs. KS-HawaiiKais, 10-5Kamehameha
15May 4Kamehameha vs. PunahouPun, 11-3Kamehameha
* — consolation


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