Day 2 of the Big Dance, a.k.a. OC-16/HHSAA GIrls Basketball Division I State Championships, is here and it’s not what some of us expected.
Last year’s OIA champion, Roosevelt, saw its state title dreams come to an abrupt end. First, the Rough Riders lost in overtime to Leilehua on Saturday in the OIA final. On Tuesday, they were soundly ousted by Mililani 64-48.
The margin of victory by the Lady Trojans shocked most fans, but it’s safe to say that this was an upset on paper. In reality? The Lady Trojans were tough and tested just often enough in the OIA West to be prepared to make this significant step forward under Coach Patrick Basilio. I noted yesterday that Mililani has just the right mix to give Roosevelt and any other foe some serious challenges in the paint and on the perimeter. Add to that a long point guard in Jazmina Lafitaga (transfer from Leilehua) and it turned into a long night for the heartbroken Rough Riders.
I also mentioned this during the Roosevelt-Leilehua game: Roosevelt’s outstanding 6-foot-1 senior, Keala Quinlan, didn’t post and basically took one shot in the paint on a fastbreak runner. I was stunned that she didn’t attack the rim much more frequently. Then again, Leilehua’s tall, sturdy and long front line may have induced her to play a finesse game (4-for-13 from the field that night).
Between Roosevelt’s thin bench and the lack of high-percentage shots near the rim — again, Quinlan is very sound on the low post when she’s there, and she’s a fine free-throw shooter — the reality is that Roosevelt was more beatable this season. Going unbeaten through the OIA East was a remarkable feat, all things considered, and coming so close to going unbeaten in the OIA playoffs would’ve been another nice achievement.
Now Mililani takes on Lahainaluna, the No. 2 seed. The Lady Lunas are on a mission since losing to Konawaena in last year’s final.
The other quarterfinal at Kalani pits ILH champ Maryknoll and Hilo, which edged Radford 33-28 on Tuesday. If there’s any team that’s as rugged and scrappy as Hilo, it’s Maryknoll, which has the benefit of an opening-round bye.
At Moanalua, No. 1 Konawaena takes on Punahou in the 7 p.m. game. Konawaena is not extremely deep, but Coach Bobbie Awa’s team is used to it. They’ve got Mercedes Ihi Victor back from a back injury. Returning player of the year Chanelle Molina is at 75 percent or so with her ankle injury. Seventy-five percent of Chanelle Molina is plenty enough for the rest of the Wildcats to win another state title. But the less-than-100-percent status of the two all-state players is enough to open the door of opportunity just bit wider for the likes of Punahou.
Konawaena and Punahou were locked in a great dynasty-versus-dynasty duel at one point when Mike Taylor was still the head coach of the Buffanblu. In recent years, though, Konawaena has remained ascendant, and as of last season, has six state crowns in the past dozen years under Awa. Punahou coach Liz Kam will offer a lot of looks, maybe, in a quest to stifle Konawaena just a bit.
“They play like boys,” Kam said. “They make good reads on offense.”
In the 5 p.m. game, Leilehua will play Kaiser. The Lady Cougars can run well, but a thin bench means they’ll pick their spots and press only if necessary — which was the case in last night’s 44-41 comeback win over a gritty Kamehameha-Maui squad.
The Lady Mules are in position to advance to the semifinals, but will they come out firing on all cylinders from the start? Sometimes, teams with opening-round byes are a bit stiff to start a quarterfinal game, and by the time they warm up, it’s the second half and too late to rally.
The Big Dance. It’s a marathon.