The timing and weirdness of fluke injuries and real on-court injuries doesn’t seem to faze Joseph Cho, but his Warriors swear by the healing powers of the “Maunawili Man.”
The Kamehameha girls basketball coach keeps rolling with the ups and downs, and for the No. 2-ranked Warriors, the season has been almost entirely plus, plus, plus so far. A 44-32 win over No. 5 ‘Iolani on the road on Tuesday night had plenty to do with the surging power of Kamehameha’s sophomores.
Senior guard Jewel Paaluhi-Caulk hustled for 14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, and classmate Kiana Vierra filled the stat sheet with 10 points, five boards, four steals and two blocks. Sophomore Noelle Sua-Godinet was superb with eight points, eight rebounds and two blocks, and another 10th grader, Malie Marfil, added five points and stellar defense all night.
The length and height of the Warriors helped stifle a dangerous ‘Iolani squad. The Raiders got 19 points from Tori Maeda, who did a pretty reasonable Monica Tokoro impression. Tokoro was an elite player who graduated in 2001.
“Tori played well,” Raiders coach Dean Young said.
But the Raiders were still cold from deep, 1-for-18 from the 3-point arc, and couldn’t take advantage of a hand injury to Kamehameha center Kalina Obrey.
The senior was on her way to another double-double and had six points and seven rebounds by halftime, but departed to get the injury to her non-shooting hand examined. In the meantime, the sophomores stepped up on both ends.
The strangest of injuries, by far, was to their point guard, Paaluhi-Caulk, long before the game. Earlier in the day, she was in her car when she tossed a pencil to a friend. However, the pencil never got through her window. Instead, it ricocheted and wound up poking her through her right palm, and she played the entire game with her hand wrapped up.
Vierra, the UC Santa Barbara signee, played through a fever and cold, Cho said. Sua-Godinet, like Vierra, returned from an ankle injury that Cho calls almost miraculous in its healing speed.
“I went to a Chinese man in Maunawili after I hurt my ankle on Friday,” Sua-Godinet said of the traditional massage expert. “He pressed on it and I had to bite down on a towel.”
A teammate, freshman Camille Feary, has also benefited from the massage to one of her injuries in the past.
“His name is a secret,” Feary said. “Don’t tell anyone. Just say it’s the ‘Maunawili man’.”
Sua-Godinet didn’t stop with the massage. She also got her ankle taped shiatsu-style before Tuesday night’s game.
Cho is just happy to have enough of his players healthy during ILH season. With Obrey’s prognosis unknown, the Warriors may have to make do without her when they face No. 1 Maryknoll on Friday night.
“With a girl like Kalina, don’t be surprised if you see her in the lineup on Friday,” Cho said of Obrey, who was consistently double- and triple-teamed on the low post. “She gets fouled and there’s no whistle.”
Injuries. Healing powers. Fluke pencil injuries. Kamehameha still has lockdown defense, or enough of it, to overcome adversity. Vierra, a long-limbed 5-foot-11 ballhawk, limited ‘Iolani super freshman Lily Lefotu Wahinekapu to four points on 1-for-3 shooting.
“We also switched Noelle to Maeda, who is so strong,” Cho said. “Kiana did a great job on Wahinekapu.”
Meanwhile, the Raiders have reason to be optimistic. Their freshmen Wahinekapu and twin sisters Alexis Huntimer and Alexsandra Huntimer played big minutes in their first ILH regular-season game, gaining valuable experience.
Alexis Huntimer finished with 10 rebounds, one assist and one steal. She missed her only two shot attempts, both from 3-point range. Alexsandra Huntimer had three points and four rebounds while battling the Warriors in the paint. Another ninth grader, Kyra Tanabe, got good looks from deep. All in all, the adrenaline was overflowing, and it might take a few more games under the spotlight before the young Raiders get comfortable and find their shooting groove.
“You could tell it was a first ILH game for some of them,” Young said. “ILH is a different game. They game plan for everything.”
The Raiders were within 33-30 in the fourth quarter, using a fullcourt press that took a toll on the Warriors. The savvy, poised presence of Paaluhi-Caulk kept Kamehameha composed enough to break that press enough times to stay ahead.
Kamehameha committed 11 turnovers and ‘Iolani had 12, but the Warriors won the battle on the glass, 38-26. Kamehameha didn’t shoot well from the arc (2-for-16), but grabbed 11 offensive boards. ‘Iolani had just four rebounds on the offensive end.
At some point, ‘Iolani will start hitting those wide-open looks from the arc.
“We executed our game plan well against Kalina. Our freshmen grew up a little tonight,” Young said.
Young added that he may have his team delve deeper into each offensive possession for an easier shot if the long ball isn’t dropping, but he has no plans to change the team’s philosophy.
“Oh no, 1-for-18 is tough to overcome, but most of those were good looks,” he said. “I can’t really be upset with shot selection.”