Career-high 37 points by Caiyle Kaupu powers Konawaena

Konawaena's Caiyle Kaupu (33) was named the Gatorade Hawaii girls basketball player of the year on Friday. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Night and day, day and night.

Caiyle Kaupu has gone from one extreme to another, and her Konawaena teammates and coaches are quite stoked about this. Kaupu struggled with six points in the Wildcats’ 40-37 win over King Kekaulike on Thursday. On Friday, she was unstoppable on the block against the one of the state’s strongest defensive teams, Kahuku. Kaupu pumped in 37 points, one shy of the state-tournament record, on 17-for-20 shooting from the field as the second-seeded Wildcats won 56-39 at Blaisdell Arena.

Kahuku tried a number of defenders on her, including point guard Leiah Naeata. Nothing seemed to work. Kaupu had 32 points after three quarters, and soon after the Wildcats spread the court and became more methodical and picky. Kaupu left the game with 50 seconds left and the Wildcats up 55-38. The record of 38 points, set by Kamehameha’s Kalina Obrey in last year’s state final, remains intact.

“Everyone’s mentality was to take care of business,” Kaupu said. “I don’t pay attention (to the crowd).”

The Wildcats don’t focus on records, of course. After nine state championships in the past 16 seasons, they just want a chance to win one more.

“We don’t look at that kind of stuff. You know we don’t,” veteran coach Bobbie Awa said. “The girls were a little sluggish at the beginning. We had to not settle, and we had to share the ball.”

The Wildcats barely got by King Kekaulike on Thursday, 40-37, but were pure efficiency on Friday. They shot 69 percent from the field (25-for-36) against a Kahuku defense that throttled the OIA and stifled ILH powerhouse Maryknoll on Thursday. The Wildcats committed just 10 turnovers and held their own on the boards.

“Going into the second half, Coach Bobbie gave us her speech,” Kaupu said.

Co-head coach Dawnyelle Awa had some adjustments to make at the break.

“She said, ‘Don’t let (Maya Claytor) shoot,” said Kaliana Salazar-Harrell, who scored 14 points.

Salazar-Harrell, Braelyn Kauhi and other Wildcats tried to cover Claytor, who had 10 of her 16 points in the first half. Konawaena utilized man and zone defenses, finishing the game in man.

There were occasional jeers from the crowd, clamoring for officials to call traveling on Kaupu. For the most part, though, her footwork in the post was Duncanesque. She added five rebounds and shot 3-for-4 at the foul line, and even had four steals. Most importantly, Kaupu committed just one personal foul.

In the nail-biter against King Kekaulike, she missed a plethora of layups to begin the game, then picked up her fourth foul with 5 minutes to go in the third period. She sat for nearly 8 minutes as the Wildcats clung to the lead.

This time, the state got to see why Kaupu is a two-time Star-Advertiser All-State Fab 15 selection. She looked forward to seeing her family after the game.

“I think my mom will cry,” she said. “My dad will give me money.”

Kahuku coach Latoya Wily, a premiere post scorer and All-State player at Kahuku in her heyday, was proud of her team. She also gave Kaupu props.

“I was enjoying watching Caiyle. We worked on getting on our post players to front (Kaupu). We did it against Serenity Moananu (of Maryknoll) the day before, but it comes with experience. That’s a post player,” Wily said.

The Wildcats then waited and watched as their BIIF frenemies from Waiakea battled defending state champion ‘Iolani in the other semifinal. Konawaena eked by Waikea for the BIIF title, 43-42, last week.

“Waiakea and ‘Iolani is a great matchup. We’re going to watch,” Awa said. “It would be awesome to see a Big Island matchup.”

HHSAA Division I Tournament

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 3Moanalua vs. KaiserMoan, 34-28Moanalua
2Feb. 3Waiakea vs. MililaniWaik, 55-42Waiakea
3Feb. 3Radford vs. King KekaulikeKK, 61-35King Kekaulike
4Feb. 3Maryknoll vs. KalaniMryk, 59-42Maryknoll
5Feb. 6(1) 'Iolani vs. MoanaluaIol, 65-31Moanalua
6Feb. 6(4) Lahainaluna vs. WaiakeaWaik, 37-26Moanalua
7Feb. 6(2) Konawaena vs. King KekaulikeKona, 40-37Kalani
8Feb. 6(3) Kahuku vs. MaryknollKah, 43-27Kalani
9*Feb. 7King Kekaulike vs. MaryknollMryk, 69-40Blaisdell Arena
10*Feb. 7Moanalua vs. LahainalunaLah, 52-39Blaisdell Arena
11Feb. 7Konawaena vs. KahukuKona, 56-39Blaisdell Arena
12Feb. 7'Iolani vs. WaiakeaIol, 57-44Blaisdell Arena
13*Feb. 8Maryknoll vs. LahainalunaMryk, 50-38Blaisdell Arena
14*Feb. 8Kahuku vs. WaiakeaWaik, 56-44Blaisdell Arena
15Feb. 8Konawaena vs. 'IolaniIol, 55-46Blaisdell Arena
* — consolation


  1. 88 February 7, 2020 9:47 pm

    #33 was on faiyah … Girl pulled out the Kevin Mchale. You can tell she is a student of the game. Hopefully the home team UH is looking at her….

  2. ILH FAN February 7, 2020 10:55 pm

    Obrey last year and Kaupu this year did well scoring so much in their games.

    To put this into perspective, when Kuehu scored her 37 it was in the championship game, not semis. Also, Kuehu only played 3 quarters. They were beating Roosevelt so bad, she never played in the fourth quarter.

    I believe she had 18 after 1, 27 after 2, and 37 after 3. Something like that. In the first quarter, Punahou went to Kuehu often and no one could stop her. They went up 20 early in the second. They were up so much, Kuehu didn’t play that much. Their game plan changed and others were taking more shots. They ran flex to milk clock since the game was out of hand.

    In the first quarter, Punahou ran quick hits and isos to get Kuheu one on ones and her teammates just looked for her.

    On this night, Kuehu could have scored 50-60 if the game plan stayed the same and the game was close.

  3. Casual Observer February 7, 2020 11:16 pm

    Win or lose tomorrow, what Coach Awa continues to do with her team is amazing.

  4. Mario Claytor February 8, 2020 1:16 am

    #33 – what a great game! Very humble young lady with great footwork. She is the real deal and will do great at the D1 level.

  5. 1SLAND3RZ February 8, 2020 9:47 pm

    Where is “Really”? Why is he not commenting on this article about Leiah Naeata? I’m just curious as to what “any person with brains” can see and say about Leiah Naeata? Does she show up to the big games? Or Does she shy away and hide? Is she fearless like all great players, or did “Really” just OVERRATE AND OVER HYPE his kid? IMO, she seemed scared. Great Players and Amazing players, they do what they can, they can get their teammates involved, they never back down. It was a great run while it lasted Kahuku , you ladies keep working hard and keep improving. Konawaena showed up ready to work and meant business. GREAT BASKETBALL THIS SEASON TO ALL OF YOU LADIES! KEEP STRIVING TO BE GREAT!

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