Big Dance, day 4: Daytime edition

A part of me will always be trapped/locked/embracing those years when the entire girls basketball tournament was held from morning to night here at Stan Sheriff Center. Of course, back then the girls hoops season was played in the spring (I liked that) and there was no Division II basketball (I think) for many of those years.

Anyway, it was a rare chance to see EVERY team and EVERY player in the tourney. Spoiled, we were, yes.

Today, the D-II state tourney is being played in Keaau and Hilo. It’s Day 3 of that tourney with the final set for tomorrow (Saturday). Here at the Stanley, it’s already the final day. The first three rounds were played at Moanalua and Kalani.


Radford 29, Farrington 27, seventh place
Radford’s Jazmyn Peralta hit a 12-foot runner below the foul line for the go-ahead basket with less than a minute to go. Estabilio drives in traffic for a layup and it’s 39-29. Time out, Kaiser, 3:17.

Moments later, Farrington standout Moli Heimuli travelled near the low post with 36.7 seconds left. After Radford center Shaelie Burgess missed a 1-and-1, the Lady Governors got the ball with 10 seconds left. Kylie Carganilla’s 3-point try from the left wing hit the front of the rim as time expired.

Heimuli had a double-double, 16 points and 11 rebounds, 7-for-14 from the field. Six of those boards were on the offensive side. Also one steal and just two turnovers in 27 minutes. She’s a 6-foot-1 junior with a lot of upside.

Farrington’s other players combined for 4-for-25 shooting from the field. Just on what I saw today, Coach Caroline Tatupu got a lot out of this group. Remember, Radford was the OIA West before losing in the playoffs.

Puni Seei led the Lady Rams with nine points, adding four boards and a steal. Burgess, a 6-2 junior, had six points and six rebounds.

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Punahou vs. Hilo, fifth-place game
Punahou leads in the second quarter, 22-14. The Buffanblu are playing with great effort regardless of the scenario. Va‘e Malufau dove for a loose ball near midcourt and Kamaile Kandiah raced into a scrum to retrieve a rebound off her baseline shot, getting tripped in the process.

Yes, this is consolation play, but both teams are going at this with what seem like regular rotations. I know Punahou is.

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HALF: Punahou leads 28-22. Tyra Moe 5-for-5 from the field, 12 points, three boards. Kamaile Kandiah with six points, one dime, one steal, three turnovers. Malufau with 10 points (4-for-6) with three caroms, one dime, one steal, one giveaway.

Shalyn Guthier with five points to lead Hilo, which has shot well (9-for-18), but has seven turnovers and is being outrebounded 11-6. They’re usually a scrappy team but right now I give Punahou the slight edge hustle-wise. Alexis Pana with a quiet 1-for-2, three points, two boards, three steals.

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THIRD QUARTER
What a run by Hilo. Punahou looks lackluster now. Hilo got a nice spin move out of a double team by Mandi Kawaha Amar, who delivered a perfect bounce pass to Pana for a layup, except Pana was flat-footed out of the key. Then Pana threw back to the top and Kandiah intercepted and scored easily on a layup. But Hilo got within 30-29 anyway on a 3 by Sharlei Graham-Bernisto. Time out, PUN.

Buffanblu get five unanswered points: a corner 3 by Elle Uyeda and a layup by Malufau. Punahou leads 35-29. Things are cooking up.

Kawaha Amar’s sweet spin move in the paint and lefty layup gives Hilo a 38-37 lead at the end of the quarter. Ootah. Good game.

FOURTH QUARTER
Lady Vikings trailing 52-49, miss an open 3 and Punahou’s Uyeda goes to the line with :10.2 left. Hilo has one time out left. Uyeda rattles it home. Clutch. Hilo air-balls a 30-footer. That does it. Punahou ekes out a 54-49 win.

Malufau finished with 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field and 3-for-4 at the free-throw line. She also had nine rebounds (four offensive), one assist, one steal and two turnovers. Moe also scored 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting from the field and 3-for-3 at the line with six boards (three offensive), two dimes, one steal and two turnovers.

Kandiah tallied 11 points (4-for-5 at the foul line) with three assists and three steals. She played on a sore knee, though it didn’t show during the game.

Sharry Pagan came off the bench to score 12 points with six rebounds for Hilo. Graham-Bernisto had nine points, six dimes and four steals, and Kawaha Amar added eight points. Guthier had seven points. Pana finished with three points and had a big bag of ice on her left ankle.

Lahainaluna vs. Kaiser, third-place game
If we had seen this matchup written out like this beforehand, more than a few people might have thought, ‘This is a typo.’ Who knew that Kaiser would be an almost entirely new team with a brand-new approach and success level this late in the season? The Lady Cougars played inspired, courageous basketball on Day 1 and 2, and though they were eliminated by defending champion Konawaena, they have truly played like champions through this season of adversity and chaos.


Can’t help feeling good for them. Those gritty seven kids… this was a life experience that taught them the meaning of perseverance, loyalty and sacrifice. It would’ve been easy to jump ship when the going got tough, which is what some teammates did during the season.

This game means a lot to Lahainaluna, which rallied from a 28-16 deficit with an astounding 23-4 run against Maryknoll on Thursday only to lose 63-61. Just about everyone I’ve heard from expected a repeat of last year’s final between Konawaena and Lahainaluna. Unfortunately, for the Lady Lunas, Cameron Fernandez fouled out early in the fourth quarter with her team up eight points and it was a struggle after that. They still were in position to win, leading 61-59 when point guard Fiamea Hafoka committed her fifth foul.

Credit to Maryknoll’s young squad and their senior leaders like Alexis Delovio, who hit the winning, finger roll layup at the buzzer. But Lahainaluna? It’s odd and bewildering to think about everything those players have sacrificed to get back into this position, only to lose their best playmakers because they got just a tiny bit too greedy. After all, isn’t that what it is when a player goes rogue and commits needless fouls independent of what the team defense is?

Fernandez had a strong shot at all-state player of the year honors, my opinion. Unstoppable with the ball. Aggressive at all times. Slasher and 3-point shooter. Five Cameron Fernandezes against The World? I might side with the Camerons. But fouling recklessly in a huge game? Heartbreaking. And I don’t know how all-state Fab 15 voters will handle that ballot this coming week, especially since Chanelle Molina of Konawaena led the Wildcats to the ‘Iolani Classic and a strong showing at the Title IX tourney in D.C., but missed all of January (BIIF) due to an ankle injury.

How do you weigh it? It’s more art than science, as always.

We’re 18 minutes away from tip-off. For entertainment’s sake, I sure hope Kaiser has some gas left in the tank. This is their fourth game in four days and Rose Shimaoka has yet to take a minute off, I believe. It’s air-conditioned here in the Stanley, of course, so that has to help sore legs. But again, Kaiser is the underdog. The Cinderella team in blue and yellow against a heartbroken MIL dynasty in fire red.

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Lahainaluna vs. Kaiser, third-place game
Kaiser got plenty of offense from Rose Shimaoka and had the game tied at 19 before the Lady Lunas closed the first half with an 8-0 run for a 27-19 lead. Sophomores Braenna Estabilio and Keiko Aotaki sparked the late run with 3-pointers over Kaiser’s 2-3 zone.

Shimaoka leads Kaiser with 11 points at the half. Brooke Ho has four points, four boards.

Koloi has eight points, five boards, one steal to lead the Lunas. Hafoka and Fernandez played just eight minutes each in the first half as Coach Todd Rickard got all of his players at least four minutes each.

THIRD QUARTER
Skylar Kimura sinks an open 3 and Shimaoka banks in a straightaway 3 to cut the score to 29-27, but the Lunas score layups in transition to open the lead back to six.

Koloi leads the break and feeds Fernandez for a baseline J, then Hafoka runs another break and finds Fernandez at point-blank range for a layup and it’s 37-27. TIme out by Kaiser with 3:15 left and when they return, Shimaoka is on the bench for the first time in the tourney. The quarter.

Aotaki swishes another 3 to open the lead to 13. The quarter ends with Lahainaluna up 42-32.

FOURTH QUARTER
Time out with 3:47 left (TV). Lunas up 48-35 despite two (questionable) charging calls against Fernandez. Their press has worn Kaiser down.

FINAL: Lahainaluna 56, Kaiser 41. Good game with lots of intensity.

Koloi had 16 points, seven boards, one block, one steal and just one turnover in 19 minutes. Hafoka finished with six points, three dimes, four steals and no turnovers in 19 minutes. Fernandez also played just 19 minutes, finishing with eight points, three boards, three dimes, four steals and three turnovers (two on those sketchy charging calls).


End of an era for those three seniors. What’s coming next for the Lunas? I’m certain Rickard’s program will continue its MIL dominance. Beyond that, it’s a mystery right now. They’ve got some nice young players, but this looks as barren a cupboard as they’ve had in a long time. Who steps up?

Lahainaluna seniors Keleah-Aiko Koloi, Cameron Fernandez and Fiamea Hafoka closed their careers with a win over Kaiser in the third-place game.
Lahainaluna seniors Keleah-Aiko Koloi, Cameron Fernandez and Fiamea Hafoka closed their careers with a win over Kaiser in the third-place game.

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