Defensive stopper Serina Aumua-Tuisavura comes up big on offense for Kahuku

Kahuku's Serina Aumua-Tuisavura torched Maryknoll for a game-high 14 points. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

The muscle and hustle is real for the Kahuku Power Co.

Even against the low-post bangers of Maryknoll, Kahuku won the battle under the glass and went on to eliminate the ailing, cold bug-ravaged Spartans from state-title contention with a 43-27 win on Thursday night in the Division I quarterfinals of the Snapple/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships at Earl C. Holmer Gymnasium.

>> PHOTO GALLERY: Kahuku vs. Maryknoll


Kahuku’s man-to-man defense was air-tight. Maryknoll coach Chico Furtado, who coached Kahuku coach Latoya Wily when she was a standout with the Lady Raiders — and one season at Kalaheo — gave high praise to their tight defense. Wily considered it her team’s best defensive effort to date.

“If we’re not advancing, this is the one I want to see move on,” Furtado said of Wily.

The Lady Raiders also got solid play from reserves.

“They all work hard at practice. Even the girls who sit on the bench, they know when our team scores, they score. Who do our starters practice against? They practice against each other and make each other better,” Wily said. “As a whole, they try to make sure: look up, lift up.”

Kahuku’s 34-27 rebounding edge was crucial, just as it has been all through the regular season and playoffs.

“We’ve got to tighten up on that. We gave (Maryknoll) some second chances,” Wily said.

Since losing to Konawaena during the ‘Iolani Classic, Kahuku has won 16 games in a row, and none of the previous 16 were as glossy as this one over the No. 3-ranked team in the Star-Advertiser Top 10.

“The best thing is we really came into this game knowing that the state didn’t really believe in us, that we would beat an ILH team and make the semis,” said Leiah Naeata, who led the Lady Raiders on the boards and often ran the point. “It started with our defense, our rebounding and our hustle.”

The 34 total rebounds is less than what Big Red averaged in the OIA playoffs, and the 14 offensive rebounds is a drop, too, but they still controlled the game with all those extra possessions.


The x-factor for Kahuku was senior guard Serina Aumua-Tuisavura, who had a team-high 14 points with three steals. Six of her points came during a key 11-2 run in the third quarter that gave the Lady Raiders control of their destiny.

“We call her our defensive specialist, but tonight she got some baskets, as well. She attacked the gaps like we asked her to,” Wily said. “But she’ll tell you those fouls, I was mad about her getting fouled out.”

As one of Kahuku’s defensive stoppers, she surprised Maryknoll with an early 3 and consistent, aggressive play on the offensive end.

“I think especially because in practice, Coach emphasizes the little things like boxing out. So when it comes to the game, it comes naturally. We grab the boards like nothing,” Aumua-Tuisavura said. “We wanted it way more. We came in here ready to defy all odds, and that’s what we did.”

Konawaena awaits Kahuku (18-7) in tonight’s semifinal round at Blaisdell Arena. When the teams met at the Hilo Winter Classic, the Wildcats won 56-32. When they met again three weeks later at the ‘Iolani Classic, Konawaena won 66-40, hitting 11 3-pointers.

“It’s just another game. We’re going to do what we’ve got to do and hopefully come out with the dub,” Aumua-Tuisavura said. “We’ve got to be focused on resting up.”

Naeata added 12 points and seven rebounds in another rock-solid performance. With the game still close in the fourth quarter, the Lady Raiders showed stellar shot selection and game management.

“Serina stepped up today. I’m very proud of her. She’s our defensive stopper. She gets the loose balls, the steals. Serina is a big part of our defense and on the offensive side, she’s a playmaker,” Naeata said.

Having the earlier game at Kalani meant getting on the bus and heading back to the North Shore at a reasonable hour on a school night. The Lady Raiders would have enough time to do their homework and get seven, maybe eight hours of sleep in the most important week of their season.


The Lady Raiders have gone through a metamorphosis since early season.

“Our team as a whole has learned that this is a team sport. It’s not just Leiah or Maya (Claytor) or Tati (Kamae), or anyone on their own. We want them to realize, they need each other in order to win,” Wily added. “The more threats we have, and if everyone is contributing 100 percent on the court and on the bench, then the better things will turn out for us.”

HHSAA D-I State 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

HHSAA D-II State Tournament

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 5McKinley vs. DamienDMS, 37-25Hilo Civic
2Feb. 5Hanalani vs. CampbellHan, 64-29Hilo Civic
3Feb. 5Farrington vs. LanaiFar, 44-36Hilo Civic
4Feb. 5Hawaii Prep vs. Hawaii BaptistHBA, 54-16Hilo Civic
5*Feb. 6McKinley vs. LanaiLan, 46-32Hilo Civic
6Feb. 6(3) Waimea vs. HanalaniHan, 63-60Hilo Civic
7Feb. 6(1) Mid-Pacific vs. DamienMPI, 59-41Hilo Civic
8Feb. 6(2) Seabury Hall vs. Hawaii BaptistHBA, 50-37Hilo Civic
9Feb. 6(4) KS-Hawaii vs. FarringtonKSH, 51-37Hilo Civic
10*Feb. 7Campbell vs. Hawaii PrepCamp, 44-12Hilo Civic
11*Feb. 7Waimea vs. Seabury HallSH, 62-42Hilo Civic
12*Feb. 7Damien vs. FarringtonDMS, 51-47Hilo Civic
13Feb. 7Hanalani vs. Hawaii BaptistHan, 52-42Hilo Civic
14Feb. 7Mid-Pacific vs. KS-HawaiiMPI, 32-28Hilo Civic
15*Feb. 8Lanai vs. CampbellLan, 49-40Hilo Civic
16*Feb. 8Seabury Hall vs. DamienSH, 53-30Hilo Civic
17*Feb. 8Hawaii Baptist vs. KS-HawaiiHBA, 37-29Hilo Civic
18Feb. 8Hanalani vs. Mid-PacificHan, 40-37Hilo Civic
* — consolation

COMMENTS

  1. 88 February 7, 2020 11:32 am

    Not too bad for a team that was beating up on mediocre OIA schools and supposedly could hang with the top tier schools …. Keep doing your thing BigRed.


  2. 9 | 6 | 7 | 6 | 2 February 7, 2020 4:31 pm

    GOOOOO BIIIIIIG RED


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