The message has been sent by the defending state champions.
The ‘Iolani Raiders are 2-0 in nonconference play after trouncing Konawaena 54-26 on a humid Thursday afternoon at McKinley Student Council Gymnasium. The Raiders didn’t get superstar scoring from anyone in this battle, but the ball movement, the swarming defense on Konawaena scorers Caiyle Kaupu and Kaliana Salazar Harrell, the nonstop fastbreaks all took a toll on the Wildcats.
“I thought on the plus side, our defense was even better today than yesterday. We were really smart and understood their personnel,” Raiders coach Dean Young said. “It’s a work in progress and we’ve gotten better at it over the summer.”
Konawaena suited up just seven players. One player sat out after suffering a concussion on Wednesday. ‘Iolani only suited up eight players with wing Alexsandra Huntimer still recovering from a hip injury. Sharpshooter Kyra Tanabe finished with 13 points and Jovi Wahinekapu Lefotu, operating as a point forward much of the time, scored 11.
Lily Lefotu Wahinekapu had a busy night on defense and tallied nine points for the Raiders.
“During our offseason, we were really focusing on our conditioning. Just having that extra mile in us to go,” Lefotu Wahinekapu said. “We substitute really quick so it’s easier for us. Quick breaks, 20 seconds and go back in.”
The junior point guard has been in complete control of games from both ends of the floor, and the Raiders are humming like a well-oiled machine in Week 1.
“We talk on defense. We talk before we go on the court. We just have really good communication with each other,” Lefotu Wahinekapu added. “It’s the same every single game, our game plan and focusing on that.
Kaupu led Konawaena with eight points after scoring 20 the night before in a win over Punahou. Salazar Harrell scored all seven of her points in the first quarter, and freshman Braelyn Kauhi chipped in six.
Every time the two Wildcats touched the ball, ‘Iolani set up their version of a Virginia backline. In addition, versatile guard Alexis Huntimer splashed two treys.
“It’s good right now, but it can get better. There’s always room for improvement,” said Lefotu Wahinekapu, who was a bit shy about discussing college offers.
One of them, she allowed, is from Washington State. A couple offers from the Big West. Hawaii has talked with her.
She beamed when the topic of former teammate Taylor Wu came up. Wu scored 37 points, hitting 10 treys, in her college debut at Cal Baptist.
“Yup. I’m so proud of her. Taylor is a fearless person. That’s why she’s able to do that,” Lefotu Wahinekapu said. “For me, college will eventually come.”
Punahou 48, Lahainaluna 44
In the final game of the night, the Buffanblu outlasted the Lady Lunas in a run-and-gun affair. Both teams used their deep benches on a hot, humid night.
Melody Lum led Punahou’s balanced attack with 10 points, including two treys. Kiara Kaniho and Piper Pascua had eight points each for the Lady Lunas. Abigail Agbayani was in early foul trouble and finished with five points.
Kamehameha 83, Kalani 26
Malie Marfil, who signed with Alaska Anchorage on Wednesday, finished with with 13 points, all in the first half. Camille Feary had a team-high 14 points, hitting two treys in the final quarter. Langi Sua-Godinet also had 14 points. MacKenzie Deal Vega scored nine of her 11 points after halftime.
Mandi Haraga led the Lady Falcons with seven points. Lilehina Oyana added six.
Kahuku 36, Mid-Pacific 24
Leiah Naeata and Tati Kamae led the Lady Raiders with nine points each \in the mid-afternoon matchup.
Madi Sagawa paced the Owls with 13 points.