2023 All-State girls basketball: Coaches’ insights

Mele Sake began the season as a first-time varsity starter. The 6-foot-1 junior ended the year as the Star-Advertiser All-State player of the year in girls basketball. Paul Honda/Star-Advertiser

Extra, extra!

The Star-Advertiser All-State Girls Basketball selections, released on Mar. 5, stirred plenty of insight from the panel of coaches and media. Here’s a look at voters’ feedback.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Girls Basketball All-State Fab 15

Player of the Year: Mele Sake, ‘Iolani
Coach of the Year: Dean Young, ‘Iolani

Fab 15
1. Mele Sake, ‘Iolani, C, 6-1, Jr.

A double-double producer, but numbers alone do not reflect Sake’s full value. She averaged 8.5 points per game for the season, but at the state championships, she averaged 12.3 points and 12.7 rebounds, adding three blocks and two steals. That includes 23 points, 13 rebounds in a state semifinal win over OIA champion Campbell. She shot 48 percent from the field (14 for 29) and 69 percent at the free-throw line (9 for 13) at states. She has currently has scholarship offers from Army and Brown — to play rugby.

>> Mark Arquero, Damien: “Mele is really coming into a complete player. Size always stood out, but now she’s really starting to understand how to use it and how to impact the game. You can really see the skill set developing and she’s continuing to get better. Also love the way she runs the floor and she has a great attitude.”

>> Chico Furtado, Maryknoll: “Mele Sake was way more confident in her play this year. She was very physical and did a lot of the ‘blue-collar’ work for Iolani. Her offensive rebounding was a great asset.”

>> Dean Young, ‘Iolani: “I’m not surprised with Mele’s development. She’s a very athletic post player so it was a matter of getting her in the right mindset and getting tons of reps around the rim.

“Her attacking the basket and finishing around the rim has improved the most since she started in high school. We shoot every practice and often times our posts are included in the shooting drills and Mele’s three point shot has gotten so much better. I think she can make that a legitimate part of her game which will definitely help her in trying to play Division I college ball.

“I love that Mele plays rugby. It shows her agility and toughness. I think she could play either or both at the right school at the next level but the most important thing is that she enjoys what she is doing and it allows her to get a great education.”

>> Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser: “She is to ‘Iolani’s new-gen basketball what Bill Russell was to the Boston Celtics. In more than three decades of covering high school basketball, I’ve seen few true post players with the level of energy that Mele Sake has. One of those relentless players in the paint was Monika Vehikite of Lahainaluna, who happens to be Mele’s mother. Her size, wingspan, athleticism and controlled aggression change the geometry of the game for opponents. Her defense allows her teammates to extend, making ‘Iolani’s man-to-man defense even tougher. She might be the toughest post defender at ‘Iolani since Jamie Smith. She has room for improvement, of course — 10 turnovers in three state-tourney games. But her accelerated improvement was off the charts this year. She will go from irreplaceable to widely recruited soon according to this pupule crystal ball. Is she ready for NCAA D-I basketball right now? Perhaps. But it’s about the trajectory. Her arrow is at a moon-shot angle. Immense upside.”

2. Braelyn Kauhi, Konawaena, G/F, 5-10, Sr.

Averaged 15 ppg as the hub for Konawaena’s attack. Arguably the most versatile player in Hawaii in 2022-23. She began her prep career as a deadly 3-point shooter, much like her father (Brandon Kauhi) and uncle (Jason Kauhi), but over time she evolved into a positionless offensive and defensive standout. That was a major factor for a young Konawaena squad. She shot 34 percent from the field (13-for-36) amd 38 percent from the 3-point arc in three state-tournament games (5-for-13), but also attacked on the block and averaged 13 points, five rebounds in three games. She had 19 points in the state final against ‘Iolani. She also had five assists and five steals with only five turnovers during the tourney. Her season-high scoring game was against North Torrance (26).

>> Pua Straight, Kamehameha: “Braelynʻs development over her high school years has been fun to watch. From her freshman year of being a 3-point shooter, to her senior year of leading her Konawaena team to another state championship game. She is versatile and skilled player who can play multiple positions and score on all three levels. Her versatility and high IQ allows her to exploit mismatches on the offensive end resulting in her ability to score at all three levels. She was Konawaenaʻs confident leader on the court this season and did a great job of leading such a young team.”

>> Furtado: “Braelyn was the leader of that very young Konawaena team. She could score inside and out. Her toughness and physicality was evident on both sides of the floor.”

>> Honda: “There are floor leaders and there are floor generals who get in the trenches. Kauhi stabilized a young team of underclassmen, sometimes running the point, sometimes post up and getting to the foul line. Sometimes hitting big 3s. Sometimes guarding wings, sometimes guarding the top bigs in the state. There are very, very few players would could and would do what Kauhi did on both ends. The fatigue and physical toll could easily have worked against her, but she was there playing her best basketball at the end. Is there another player statewide with a higher all-around basketball IQ? Probably not. She carried the Wildcats as much mentally as she did physically.”

3. Theresa Anakalea, Damien, G, 5-6, Sr.

Damien’s move from Division II to D-I meant more attention and pressure from deeper, Top-10 level teams. Anakalea still produced in a big way with 17 points per game. Her shooting range (31 treys) and ability to get to the rim were vital for the Lady Monarchs. She averaged 23.8 ppg in nine preseason games, including 29 against Esperanza (Calif.), 26 against Carondelet and 32 against Leilehua. ILH defenses went all-out to slow the slashing senior, but she still scored 17 ppg in league play, including 27 against Kamehameha, 19 on ‘Iolani and 31, 28 and 26 points against Punahou.

>> Straight: “Theresa is a fearless, confident and competitive scorer. She has a high motor and possesses the skills and mentality to consistently score on all three levels.  With Damienʻs move from ILH D-II to ILH D-I, I think Theresa proved that she can still score at a high level against teams whose entire defensive game plan was geared to stop/contain her.  While she was Damienʻs ‘go-to girl’ since her freshman year,  you could definitely see her game and leadership skills develop throughout her high school career.”

>> Arquero: “Theresa is the ultimate competitor. She’s an elite scorer with the ability to finish around the rim and hit the deep 3-pointer. One thing that most people don’t get to see is how she carries herself around the team. She genuinely cares for teammates taking the younger ones under her wing and teaching/encouraging them. She also challenges and motivates the others while still keeping it fun and competitive.”

>> Honda: “Tremendous will with a motor that never stopped. Damien’s lack of depth tested the endurance of its players through a very busy nonconference slate, but Anakalea loved the challenge each time.”

4. Laynee Torres-Kahapea, Punahou, G, 5-6, Sr.

Possibly the quickest first step in the islands. Torres-Kahapea was a blur, beating man-to-man defenses on most nights and getting to the free-throw line, where she shot 74 percent. The senior averaged 16 ppg, bringing solid on-ball defense. Her season highs included 24 against Kamehameha, 31, 24 and 21 against Damien, 18 against ‘Iolani and 18 against Maryknoll.

>> Straight: “Laynee is a confident playmaker with the mindset and fire to compete on every possession on both ends of the court. She has great vision, can create shots for herself and for her teammates, and is almost impossible to stop when she gets going downhill. She takes great angles to the basket, reads secondary defenders, and can finish through contact. I think over her high school career, she developed a consistent three point shot to round out her game as well as leadership skills to emerge as Punahouʻs confident floor general. What a great high school career she had and Iʻm excited to follow her journey as she represents Hawaii and the Native Hawaiian community at Portland State.

>> Furtado: “Laynee really established herself as the premier player in the state. She did everything from attacking the basket, finding open teammates and playing great defense. She is really a smart and savvy point guard.”

>> Arquero: “Laynee is such a smart and savvy basketball player. She understands angles, body control, tempo, which really helps her get to the basket or get to the free throw line. She also uses her understanding of defensive concepts to anticipate the open pass which makes her so tough to defend. She’s a true point guard and floor general out there.”

>> Honda: “ Her court awareness and first step are reminiscent of the best guards in recent memory, including Lily Wahinekapu. Defenses that challenged her usually got torched. Smart teams like Esperanza (Calif.) stayed off Torres-Kahapea and gambled that she wouldn’t hit the 3-point shot, which she made just 10 of all season. Most defenses, even backing down to play her drive, couldn’t stop her anyway. As her perimeter shot improves, she will thrive at the next level.”

5. Nihoa Dunn, Kamehameha, C, 5-11, Fr.

On a team with tremendous young talent, Dunn was a difference-maker on the block and continued to improve as a passer out of double teams through the season. She averaged 12 ppg, shooting 50 percent at the foul line. She also didn’t make a 3, though she has a smooth shooting stroke from deep. At states, Dunn shot 44 percent from the field (21-for-48), 60 percent at the FT line (9-for-15), and averaged 12.8 points and 11.3 rebounds per game. She also had seven assists, two steals, five blocks and only five turnovers in four games.

>> Furtado: “Nihoa was the surprise of the ILH. Despite being only a freshman, she was a dominant scoring threat in the post for Kamehameha. She got better as the season progressed.”

>> Straight: “Nihoa has a high ceiling for this game and is only starting to scratch the surface of what she is capable of doing, which is scary considering that she was just short of averaging a double-double with 12.5 ppg and 9.4 rpg.  She came to us already being comfortable operating back to the basket, which is somewhat rare these days with most skills training revolving around perimeter play. She finishes well around the basket and positions herself really well to grab offensive boards for putbacks. While Nihoa mainly scored in the paint for us this year, she possesses a lot of good tools for developing her face-up game. She has good shooting mechanics, great mobility, good vision, and good decision making skills. Speaking from the perspective of being her coach this season, Nihoa is embracing the process of hard work and developing her mentality as a scorer. I canʻt wait to see what the future holds for her.”

>> Honda: “There were stretches during a tough nonconference schedule when this freshman was automatic on the block with her turnaround bank shot. She showed signs of her youth at times, but always bounced back stronger and more resilient. Extremely bright future for Dunn and her young Warrior teammates.”

6. Aliyah Bantolina, Campbell, G, 5-6, Jr.

If there was an award for OIA MVP, it would probably belong to Bantolina. Campbell took full advantage of her toughness and athleticism on defense, and she was a willing scorer offensively. Bantolina scored 11 points per game, including 21 with four assists, three boards, one steal and one block with just one turnover in a state quarterfinal win over Waiakea.

>> Furtado: “Aliyah was also the floor leader for Campbell. Her ability to attack the bucket as well as hit the 3point shot made her a difficult matchup. She was also a great defender.”

>> Arquero: “Aliyah is so athletic. What makes her a tough defender is that she’s fast, physical and showed she can guard every position. What also impressed me is her leadership on the floor. She was consistently communicating, and her effort every game was superb.”

>> Honda: “Bantolina was superb as a junior on both ends. She was clutch through the nonconference and OIA schedule, and continued that momentum against Waiakea. It was against eventual state champion ‘Iolani when she showed that there’s still room for growth. She was 2-for-2 from 3-point range against ‘Iolani’s zone, but didn’t really realize she needed to step up and shoot more until the final minute of the game. She finished that game with eight points, four boards and four turnovers. I think she will be much more assertive next season. The best shooter on any team can’t take just two 3-point shots against zone unless she’s dominating inside.”

7. Paige Oh, ‘Iolani, G, 5-3, Sr.

The senior stepped up and filled the void when ‘Iolani lost two key backcourt players to injuries. Oh scored nine points per game, including 21 against Maryknoll and 17 in the state final against Konawaena. She averaged 10 ppg at states, shooting 43 percent from the field (9-for-21), 89 percent at the foul line (8-for-9) with five assists, four steals and a block with nine turnovers.

>> Furtado: “Paige took over the point guard responsibilities for Iolani and was the catalyst for their success. Her dribble penetration was tough to defend and she hit the open 3-point shot when needed.”

>> Honda: “A young Raiders squad needed on-court leadership to help returning starter Haylie-Anne Ohta and got it with key contributors like Oh. She was ready for the big moments as ‘Iolani four-peated.”

8. KeanuMarie Huihui, Kamehameha-Hawaii, G, 6-0, Jr.

No matter who the competition was, Huihui was in giant-killer mode. The versatile wing averaged 24 ppg, scoring inside, from mid-range, and the arc (46 3-pointers). She had 17 in a close loss to Maryknoll, 19 against Kamehameha, 26 against MIL powerhouse Maui and 17 against state-title contender Konawaena. Huihui averaged 25.7 points and 7.7 rebounds at the D-II state tournament, shooting 48 percent from the field (23-for-48) and 84 percent from the foul line (26-for-31).

>> Donald Yamada, KS-Hawaii: “-I’ve watched Anu play from a little kid. Watched her growth and develop every year. She is one of the few girls on the big island that plays against boys and is able to be productive. 

“All season I’ve preached to Anu about trusting and building her teammates IQ around her. Leading and teaching the game to the younger/ newer players. Be a coach on the court, encourage teammates after a mistake, congratulate teammates, hold each other accountable to stay focus on our goal. Anu has stepped up to each ask throughout the season. 

“She leads and communicates on and off court, hold teammates accountable and focus on set goals, biggest thing is always having fun with the game she loves.” 

>> Honda: “What she showed during the I Mua tournament at Kekuhaupio Gymnasium was tremendous. She was a quality shooter with excellent shot selection against two outstanding ILH teams. It’s easy to imagine what Huihui would do if she was on the roster at Kapalama or even Konawaena, but she intends to continue leading the Warriors and lead the Big Island program to a (D-II) state championship.”

9. Haylie Anne-Ohta, ‘Iolani, G, 5-6, Sr.

The senior point guard was the steersman for a very young team full of question marks as the season began. Ohta tirelessly maneuvered multiple duties as a floor general, getting to the rim and hitting 3s, operating a new-look offense and setting the tone defensively. She averaged 10 ppg, hit 35 3-points and shot nearly 70 percent at the free-throw line.

>> Straight: “Haylie is a high IQ and very skilled all around guard and it was nice to see her step into a bigger role this year. She has a very quiet and humble confidence about her. She is a knock down three point shooter, has great vision, and an ability to get to the basket, read secondary defenders, and finish with both hands. She is a facilitator and scorer for her ʻIolani team and is also a great defender who jumps passing lanes well. She has a high motor, great conditioning levels, and moves effortlessly on offense and defense.”

>> Arquero: “Haylie is ultimate team player. She’s unselfish, highly efficient two-way player. She often guarded the other team’s best player while always seeming to hit a big 3-pointer when her team needed it. She always plays so composed and leads by example. She’s arguably the MVP in my opinion.”

>> Honda: “The miles and mental exertion of leading the Raiders from Point A to Point B, a raw, green squad to a state title, was felt most by Ohta. She never wilted, however, and by the postseason, ‘Iolani was balanced, smart and physical team on both ends. Ohta may have tired a tiny bit by the state tournament, but she was still crucial with nine assists, six steals, no turnovers and 88-percent shooting at the foul line in three games. She fulfilled the unique, exceedingly difficult demands of a program-wide legacy. Nothing will ever change that.”

10. Taimane Faleafine-Auwae, Maryknoll, C, 6-1, Sr.

Voted defensive player of the year by coaches and media, Faleafine-Auwae was more assertive offensively this year and averaged 10 ppg. With an effective low-post game and a good shooting stroke from mid-range, coupled with her ability alter and block shots in the paint, she is just beginning to realize her potential.”

>> Straight: “Taimane is a great paint defender not just because of her size, but because she understands how to defend the paint.  She has good timing on her blocks and good patience as to not pick up many unnecessary fouls. When in help defense, she has good off-ball positioning which allows her to contest shots, block shots, and change shots with her length. She grabs boards and makes smart decisions on her outlet passes.”

>> Furtado: “Taimane was our leader. Her shot blocking and rebounding was exceptional. Offensively, she had her best year as a Spartan.”

>> Honda: “The ILH playoffs were, as usual, a major grind. The Spartans had three crucial games in three nights, and that proved to be a factor in derailing their state-tournament hopes. Faleafine-Auwae will get stronger at the next level and play her best basketball as most post players do.”

11. Ledjan Pahukoa, Lahainaluna, G, 5-8, Sr.

The legend of Ledjan Pahukoa began in Upcountry Maui when she sparked King Kekaulike to one of its best seasons in 2019-20. She then transferred to Lahainaluna, helping the Lady Lunas win two more MIL titles. She averaged 15 ppg as a senior, hitting 43 3-pointers and shooting 70 percent at the free-throw line. Normally a long-range bomber, she was limited to two 3-point attempts by Kamehameha in the state quarterfinals and struggled finishing with seven points, two rebounds, one assist and two steals, shooting 2-for-14 from the field. She finished strong with 14 points against Moanalua and 18 against Waiakea as Lahainaluna placed fifth. She had a season-high 26 points against Kamehameha in preseason.

>> Iolani Kaniho, Lahainaluna: “>> She was sixth grade. I was coaching boys and I came in with our team. They were playing before us against a Lahaina team and this girl was hitting from way out there. I said I hope I never have to play against her. I still never knew who she was. As a freshman (at King Kekaulike), she broke our 174-game win streak. Then we got lucky and she came over to Lahaina.

“She could always score, a good athlete, but you could see her development to someone who could get to the basket, who could handle the pressure. That was the most impressive thing, being our primary ball handler, sacrifice her scoring. She would find open people. Her maturity level and understanding was what can I do to help everyone else. She is very humble. Never jumping up and pumping her fists.”

>> Honda: “Stellar defense on ball, Pahukoa brings plenty on that end, and has the ability to create with the ball offensively. As she gets acclimated to a more streamlined role at the next level, she has the potential to thrive. She got stronger over the years and the added strength at the next level will help her become a consistent finisher and creator in the paint.”

12. Ciera Tugade-Agasiva, Maryknoll, F, 5-8, Sr.

Averaged 11 points per game and 73 percent at the free-throw line. That included a 13-for-13 performance at the charity stripe in a big win at ‘Iolani.

>> Furtado: “Ciera’s overall game improved. She scored, rebounded and defended. She’s a tough match up because of her versatility and athleticism.”

>> Honda: “At times, she was an unstoppable force on the low and high posts, a rugged rebounder and scorer with good passing skills. She was also a capable ball handler, and if her shooting touch expands to the 3-point line, she will get a chance to excel at the next level.”

13. Olivia Malafu, Kapaa, C, 6-0, Jr.

Supremely gifted as an a athlete with a high IQ, using her height, length and vision to make her teammates better. Malafu scored 15 points per game and shot 61 percent at the FT line. She had 25 in a close loss to Damien during preseason. At the D-II state tourney, she shot 68 percent from the field (23-for-34) with 18.3 points and nine rebounds per game. Eleven of those caroms were on the offensive glass. She also had key contributions with four assists, four steals and six blocks to go with 11 turnovers in three state-tourney games. Kapaa won its first D-II girls basketball crown.

>> Honda: “She is the younger sister of former Kapaa football and basketball standout Solomone Malafu. At this point, she is in position to win more state titles than her brother. The hope here is Olivia Malafu and her teammates will get ample opportunities to play the best D-I opponents next season. Or maybe even petition to move up to D-I. They’re that good.”

14. Pua Herrington, Waiakea, G/F, 5-9, Fr.

Herrington averaged 16 points per game and shot 73 percent at the foul line, both tremendous numbers for a ninth grader. Her efficiency at the state tourney was off the charts for any player of any age. She averaged 23 points and seven rebounds at states. Even with one game of incomplete stats (Maui), Herrington shot 53 percent from the field (21-for-40), 77 percent at the FT line (17-for-22), and had 7 rebounds per game. She also had eight rebounds, seven steals and only five turnovers (three games). Waiakea was simply better with the ball in her hands as she moved it, rebounded it and finished with it while taking high-percentage shots. She also had solid games against Maryknoll (17 points), Konawaena (23) and Maui (32).

>> Honda: “Herrington, with her height and body frame, with good ballhandling skills, is reminiscent of former Hilo freshman standout Onaona Miller. Miller had the ability to snatch a rebound, go coast-to-coast with any midcourt crossover dribble, and score on a reverse layup against any team. Miller wound up transferring to Punahou as a sophomore and became an All-State player there. Herrington and the Warriors have a chance to upset the cart in the BIIF, where Konawaena has been a dynasty for two decades.”

15. Brooke Samura, Hawaii Prep, G, 5-6, Jr.

Samura’s strength, ballhandling and rebounding are exceptional. At times, she is a grown woman playing against children, and her motor is also matched by few. The junior averaged nearly 27 points per game and shot 72 percent at the foul line. She scored 29 in a loss to Konawaena, easily the most by an individual player against the Wildcats all season. At the D-II state tourney, Samura averaged 31.8 and 14 rebounds per contest. She shot 43 percent from the field (45-for-104) and 77 percent at the line (34-for-44), adding 4.3 assists and 5.5 steals per game.

>> Honda: “Samura is another ‘what-if’ level of player who would start on any team in the state and make a significant contribution. There are players and there are scorers, and there are forces of nature. Samura gives Ka Makani a chance to make another run at the BIIF and state D-II titles next season.”

Honorable mention

Jolie Mantz, Waiakea, 5-7, Jr.
> The Warriors’ veteran guard had a solid preseason and regular season, but a lack of efficiency in the state tourney was a surprise: 24 percent from the field (11-for-46, 14 turnovers in games against Kahuku, Campbell and Lahainaluna. She also shot 80 percent at the FT line at states (16-for-20), had 10 assists, five steals in those games. Season high against Konawaena was 11 points.

Maela Honma, Kamehameha-Hawaii, 5-9, Jr.
> The volleyball standout was a gritty rebounder and willing scorer alongside Huihui, averaging 16 points per game for the season while shooting 77 percent at the foul line. Honma averaged 11 points and 7.7 rebounds per game at the D-II state tourney — with only one turnover per game. She had highs of 14 points against Maryknoll, 20 against Radford and 13 against Konawaena.

Kya Kanoho, Kamehameha, 5-6, Sr.
> Defensive swarmer and tough on ball, Kanoho’s athleticism in transition was a big part of Kamehameha’s late-season push. She averaged 8 points per game, shooting 68 percent from the FT line for the season. At states, she shot 46 percent from the field (15-for-33) and 86 percent at the foul line (12-for-14), averaging 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals and just 2.3 turnovers per game. She was selected to the All-Tournament team.

Julien Parado, Campbell, 5-6, Sr.
> True grit by a two-time OIA champion, often defending in the paint against larger players. Averaged 9 points per game and shot 55 percent at the FT line. Parado averaged 8.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 1 block per game (and 1.7 turnovers) at the state tourney. She shot 32 percent from the field (9-for-28) and 63 percent at the foul line (5-for-8).

Jirah Villanueva, Radford, 5-5, Jr.
> Showed flashes of greatness at times, but didn’t quite sustain those spurts against tougher competition. Averaged 15 points per game while shooting 77 percent from the free-throw line. Scored 19 against Kahuku and a season-high 27 against Nanakuli. In Radford’s 48-42 state-tournament loss to Maui, Villanueva had eight points on 3-for-9 shooting, five rebounds, one assist and no turnovers. The potential is there to become a game-changing player, but this was basically a rerun of her sophomore season.

Alexus Ma‘ae, Kaiser, 5-6, Jr.
> Possibly the most overachieving player in the state, Ma‘ae had her share of struggles against much bigger posts, but her relentless attitude and motor were phenomenal. She averaged 22 points per game and shot 78 percent from the FT line. That included 21 points against Kamehameha in an opening-round loss at the state tourney. She shot 6-for-11from the field, 8-for-10 at the foul line, grabbed six rebounds, added two steals and two blocks and had seven turnovers.

Denise Alfonso, Kapaa, 5-10, So.
> The speedy playmaker was one of the Warriors’ catalysts en route to the D-II state title. Alfonso averaged 11 points per game.

Jordyn Luna, Maui, 5-4, Sr.
> The Sabers’ floor leader averaged 12 points per game for the season, shooting 53 percent from the FT line. She had 15 points, five boards, three assists, three steals and two turnovers in a win over Radford to open the state tournament. ‘Iolani then limited her to nine points on 4-for-16 shooting from the field in the quarterfinals.

Trislyn Maeda, Hawaii Baptist, 5-1, Sr.
> Sparked the Eagles with 10 points per game and shot 63 percent from the FT line. She had a season-high 23 points in a D-II state quarterfinal win over Hawaii Prep.

Kiani Hoolulu, Kailua, 5-4, Jr.
> The former Maryknoll guard made a nice splash in the OIA East and finished the year scoring 15 points per game, hitting 75 percent at the FT line. She had 22 points against Moanalua, 21 against Kaiser, 19 against Mililani and 21 against Kahuku.

Rylee Paranada, Kamehameha, 5-6, Fr.
> The twitchy left-hander was a tough offensive threat given the opportunity, and stepped up with 22 points (seven treys) in a big state quarterfinal win over MIL champion Lahainaluna. Paranada averaged 6 points per game and shot 70 percent at the FT line.

Callie Pieper, ‘Iolani, 6-0, So.
> Pieper’s toughness on the boards and speed on the fast break became instrumental in the Raiders’ state-title run. She averaged 6 points per game for the season, including a high of 16 against Maui in the state quarterfinals and 11 in the title game against Konawaena. Very bright future for the two-sport athlete.

Shailoh Liilii, Moanalua, 5-11, So.
> The rangy all-defensive team pick averaged nearly 9 points per game. She showed a promising shooting touch from mid-range. Her ability to recover defensively and swat shots was a big part of Moanalua’s playoff run.

Faith Mersburgh, Campbell, 5-6, Sr.
> The transfer from Hanalani made an impact quickly. Uber-quick defender and a speedster in transition. Mersburgh averaged 7 ppg for the season with highs of 12 against Kamehameha (twice) and 15 against Waiakea. At states, she averaged 9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 3.3 steals and 1.7 turnovers per game while shooting 40 percent from the field (10-for-25) and 42 percent from the foul line (5-for-12).

Shania Moananu, Punahou, 5-6, Sr.
> Through sheer grit, the point guard made a remarkable comeback from an ACL tear. Moananu averaged 8 ppg while shooting 73 percent from the FT line.

Braylee Riturban, Moanalua, 5-5, Jr.
> Moanalua’s floor general made big strides while bringing stability to a young team prone to turnovers. Riturban averaged nearly 11 ppg and shot 53 percent from the FT line.

Alexa Meyer, Konawaena, 5-7, Sr.
> Meyer provided strong on-ball defense and scoring punch, averaging 8 ppg. She shot 70 percent from the FT line.

Taysia Molina-Schulte, Campbell, 5-5, Jr.
> A tough-nosed defender on the perimeter, Molina-Schulte averaged 9 ppg. At states, she scored 7.3 ppg on 39-percent shooting from the field (9-for-23).

Tavina Harris, Lahainaluna, 6-0, Sr.
> The Lady Lunas’ reliable force in the trenches averaged 12 ppg, including a season-high of 22 points in the MIL title game against Maui, and shot 77 percent from the field. In the state tourney, she scored 8.3 points per game and grabbed 8 rebounds per contest while shooting 50 percent from the field. Her production stayed relatively consistent through her prep career.

Ellana Klemp, Hanalani, 5-9, So.
> The Royals’ future is bright with Klemp and a crew of young players who are dedicated to training year-round. Klemp averaged more than 15 points per game and shot 72 percent from the FT line. She had 15.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game at the D-II state tourney, shooting 33 percent from the field (19-for-58) and 69 percent from the FT line (18-for-26). She also had 1.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 4.3 turnovers per game at the big dance. Plenty of upside for one of the top sophomores in the state. Hopefully, Hanalani will schedule a lot of games with D-I teams next season.

Haikela Hiraishi, Konawaena, 5-5, Fr.
> Voted one of the state’s top newcomers, Hiraishi was a big plus on defense and showed good potential as an offensive weapon. She finished the season averaging 7 ppg.

Kalena Akinaka, King Kekaulike
> Na Alii were a serious MIL title contender back in the 2019-20 season. Akinaka’s offensive production — 20 points per game — would have been a very nice fit on that team. She had highs of 17 against Sacred Hearts, 19 against Maui, 25 against Lahainaluna and 33 against Baldwin.

Ka‘ano‘ipua Leleiwi, Konawaena, 5-7, Fr.
> After a slow start and time away due to an injury, Leleiwi returned with confidence and played a solid role in Konawaena’s late-season run. Strong to the basket and fearless against bigger posts, she had 10 points against South Medford (Ore.), 11 against Campbell, nine against Kamehameha and eight against ‘Iolani.

Mailana Mattos, Radford, 5-10, Sr.
> Mattos averaged 13 points per game and shot 54 percent from the FT line. She was especially tough in OIA West play with highs of 26 against Waipahu and 22 against Mililani. She also scored 12 against ‘Iolani and 12 against Maryknoll in preseason.

1. Taimane Faleafine-Auwae, Maryknoll
2. Mele Sake, ‘Iolani
3. Aliyah Bantolina, Campbell
4. Kya Kanoho, Kamehameha
5. Shailoh Liilii, Moanalua

>> Arquero: “Taimane is everything you’d expect defensively from your center. She did a great job as a rim protector without fouling. Really used her size to be an effective rebounder. She was the anchor to that defense.”

>> Furtado: “Taimane was the best shot blocker in the state in my opinion. We didn’t need to double down in the post because she was able to handle her matchup without needing help.”

>> Straight: “I think Kya is one of the best if not the best perimeter defender in the state.  She has an high motor, great conditioning levels, and a great mentality and confidence for defense. For the past two years, we have always relied on Kya to guard the opposing teamʻs best perimeter scorers, many times in full isolation defense.  She was our main leader and defensive engine and was one of the main reasons why defense was one of our teamʻs strengths.”

>> Arquero: “Kya is a tough defender because she’s so quick and smart. She plays great on ball defense and it really seems like she sets the tone defensively.”

>> Straight: “I think Kya is one of the best if not the best perimeter defender in the state. She has an high motor, great conditioning levels, and a great mentality and confidence for defense. For the past two years, we have always relied on Kya to guard the opposing teamʻs best perimeter scorers, many times in full isolation defense.  She was our main leader and defensive engine and was one of the main reasons why defense was one of our teamʻs strengths.”

6. Faith Mersburgh, Campbell
7. Laynee Torres-Kahapea, Punahou
8. Haylie-Anne Ohta, ‘Iolani
9. Paige Oh, ‘Iolani
10. Isabella Arrisgado, Maryknoll

Most Improved
1. Mele Sake, ‘Iolani
2. Paige Oh, ‘Iolani
3. Ciera Tugade-Agasiva, Maryknoll

Top Newcomers
1. Nihoa Dunn, Kamehameha

>> Furtado: “Nihoa will be the premiere post player in the ILH next year.”

2. Pua Herrington, Waiakea

3. Rylee Paranada, Kamehameha

>> Furtado: “Rylee Paranada is an excellent 3 point shooter. Another pleasant surprise for Kamehameha.”

4. Haikela Hiraishi, Konawaena

>> Furtado: “I only saw Haikela play briefly but her poise and athleticism as a freshman impressed me.”

5. Dylan Neves, Maryknoll

>> Furtado: “Dylan Neves had a great freshmen year. She shot the 3-pointer well and showed signs of attacking the bucket at times.”

>> Honda: “Her evolution as a key ballhandler and shooter was excellent. Add elite-level defense on the perimeter and Neves had a pivotal season. Strong, quick and tough.”

Mia Frye, ‘Iolani

>> Furtado: “Mia Frye gave Iolani the necessary help they needed especially with the injury to Amber Tanaka. She is very athletic and wasn’t afraid to be aggressive.”

>> Honda: “The bloodline is strong in Frye, the daughter of former Kalani standout Everett Frye. The explosive first step, the defensive instincts, almost a clone of her father. She thrived in a supporting role this season and is in position to be a key cog in the Raider dynasty for two more years.”

Makana Kanakeeaina, Damien

>> Honda: “She is one of the most promising, true stretch fives I’ve seen in more than three decades of covering preps. Her 3-point stroke is pure, and she has the strength and basics to become a consistent post playmaker. She averaged 7 points per game, but it won’t take much to double that next season. Nothing would surprise me.”

Kaylie “Mochi” Yamasaki, Konawaena

The Wildcats were often at their best when their freshman point guard was in elite mode: running offense, hitting 3s and applying tough on-ball defense. She is an integral part of Konawaena’s deep group of underclassmen.

Kaitea Galletes, Konawaena

Tall (6-0), long and wiry strong, Galletes was a problem for many post scorers. Quick jumper, and getting physically stronger each year. She has plenty of room to grow offensively. The Wildcats will need that from her with All-State selection Braelyn Kauhi graduating.


  1. Fullcourt March 12, 2023 10:29 am

    The individual statistics for many teams are not accurate .
    Take Kona for example. Their tournament which was 3 games and the Hawaii Baptist tournament which is 4 games plus much of their regular season and the Waiakea playoff game is not accounted for .

  2. Paul Honda March 12, 2023 5:27 pm

    Feel free to post your Fab 15.

  3. Fullcourt March 13, 2023 7:29 am

    I wasn’t trying to be negative . Was just sharing

  4. Paul Honda March 15, 2023 12:36 pm

    Very passive-aggressive of you.

  5. Deez November 22, 2023 12:36 pm

    Ahaha comical list. Who ever made this list never played any kind of serious basketball. Stats are all wrong!! The hate is real is Hawaii. Crab mentality..smh..gets you no where..trust me

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