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
|1||Feb. 3||Moanalua vs. Kaiser||Moan, 34-28||Moanalua|
|2||Feb. 3||Waiakea vs. Mililani||Waik, 55-42||Waiakea|
|3||Feb. 3||Radford vs. King Kekaulike||KK, 61-35||King Kekaulike|
|4||Feb. 3||Maryknoll vs. Kalani||Mryk, 59-42||Maryknoll|
|5||Feb. 6||(1) 'Iolani vs. Moanalua||Iol, 65-31||Moanalua|
|6||Feb. 6||(4) Lahainaluna vs. Waiakea||Waik, 37-26||Moanalua|
|7||Feb. 6||(2) Konawaena vs. King Kekaulike||Kona, 40-37||Kalani|
|8||Feb. 6||(3) Kahuku vs. Maryknoll||Kah, 43-27||Kalani|
|9*||Feb. 7||King Kekaulike vs. Maryknoll||Mryk, 69-40||Blaisdell Arena|
|10*||Feb. 7||Moanalua vs. Lahainaluna||Lah, 52-39||Blaisdell Arena|
|11||Feb. 7||Konawaena vs. Kahuku||Kona, 56-39||Blaisdell Arena|
|12||Feb. 7||'Iolani vs. Waiakea||Iol, 57-44||Blaisdell Arena|
|13*||Feb. 8||Maryknoll vs. Lahainaluna||Mryk, 50-38||Blaisdell Arena|
|14*||Feb. 8||Kahuku vs. Waiakea||Waik, 56-44||Blaisdell Arena|
|15||Feb. 8||Konawaena vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 55-46||Blaisdell Arena|
|* — consolation|