Chemistry is more than a class, and the ‘Iolani Raiders have mastered it already.
The Raiders played without Taylor Wu, who is on a recruiting trip, and injured Tori Maeda, but still overwhelmed Kalani 68-49 on Saturday afternoon at the Matsumoto Law Group McKinley Black and Gold Classic.
Lily Lefotu Wahinekapu exploded for 21 points, including a clutch wing 3 in the third quarter to stymie a comeback attempt by the Lady Falcons. Alexis Huntimer was red-hot in the first half with 14 points.
“We’re a good team, definitely. Tori and Taylor are definitely big losses, but we know we have to step it up when they’re gone,” Huntimer said. “That’s exactly what we did. We did the little things. We boxed out, we grabbed the ball and we ran.”
Kalani had rallied from a double-digit deficit, pulling within 37-33 in the third quarter when Lefotu Wahinekapu splashed her first trey. That sparked an 8-0 run and ‘Iolani was never threatened the rest of the way.
The Raiders got off to smoking-hot start from the opening tip. Huntimer swished two 3s in the first quarter as ‘Iolani took a 17-13 lead. She added two more treys in the second quarter as the Raiders simply outran the speedy Falcons.
“My teammates were finding me. Kalani’s a great team. I think they just had some miscommunication,” Huntimer said.
‘Iolani led 35-25 just before the break. Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole scored to cut the lead to eight at the break. The transfer from Maryknoll led the Falcons with 16 points in a mix of perimeter shots, post-ups and driving buckets. But on the whole, Kalani’s returnees and new players — freshman Kalena Halunajan added 13 points — were sometimes out of sync against ‘Iolani’s full-court and half-court pressure.
Kalani will need time to build chemistry. ‘Iolani has players who have been together since middle school.
If the Raiders look like a track team at times, it’s no accident.
“Our seniors, all three of them, they all make sure we get to the track before practice and run,” said Huntimer, who is also a cross country runner. “Shout out, Taylor and Tori. She brought up the idea. The coaches didn’t know we were doing that. Sometimes, we run just laps. Sometimes, we run laps and the (bleacher) stairs. It’s not that bad. Obviously, it made a difference today.”
‘Iolani went 3-0 in the tourney, which had an ILH-versus-OIA format. The Raiders outran Kahuku 72-46 on Thursday, wore down Lahainaluna 65-51 on Friday, and scored 68 today. That’s an average of 68.7 points per game.
“Those three teams are definitely good teams,” Huntimer said. “It was a good game for every single one, but should we be No. 1? I don’t know. We’re not complacent. If you all put us at No. 1, we don’t think of it like that. We’re going to practice like we’re No. 2.”
Lahainaluna 46, Kamehameha 39 — The Lady Lunas bounced back from losses to Maryknoll and ‘Iolani to win their last game in the tourney. Susitina Namoa poured in 20 points and was the primary ballhandler in the final quarter against Kamehameha’s fullcourt press. Namoa, a senior guard/forward, sank seven of her eight free-throw tries in the final 8 minutes. Ashley Akamine added 14 points.
Kalina Obrey led Kamehameha with 13 points.
Maryknoll 69, Mililani 41 — A close game in the first quarter turned into a runaway by the Lady Spartans, who played their fifth game in two tournaments over a 40-hour span.
Aloha Akaka pumped in 17 points to lead the Spartans, who went 3-0 in the Classic and 3-0 in Moanalua’s Na Menehune Peek tourney. They played an 8 a.m. game against Maui before driving to McKinley for the 11:30 a.m. tip-off against the Trojans.
Madison Ayers led Mililani with 14 points.