For two teams that hadn’t met all year, Hawaii Baptist and Seabury Hall sure seemed to have each other’s number.
HBA came through with the kind of execution that experienced teams thrive on, outlasting Seabury Hall 43-39 on Saturday night to capture the Division II girls basketball state championship at the Stan Sheriff Center.
It was far from easy against a Spartans team that has explosive guards, bigs who rebound and hit 3-pointers, and hardly a senior on the roster. MIL champion Seabury Hall (14-1) is almost certainly the second-best team in the league behind the dynastic Lahainaluna Lady Lunas.
But this championship trophy is going to the school in Nuuanu thanks to the steadying influence of senior guard Kyley Nakagawa (nine points, seven rebounds, four assists), clutch-shooting Sasha Phillip (eight points, seven rebounds), slashing guard Alexis Dang (12 points) and trench force Hayley Taka (10 points, eight rebounds, three steals).
This is HBA’s second state title. The first came in 2016 when Nakagawa was a freshman on the varsity. When the Eagles went to a delay game down the stretch, it wasn’t an all-out stall. They kept shooting, getting a key baseline shot from Taka.
“We talked about, we will still play while we hold the ball a little. We’ll still drive,” Nakagawa said.
The experience factor was huge. The Eagles have been perennial title contenders, built for close games like this, holding a small lead down the stretch.
“We’ve been playing with each other for maybe like seven or eight years. We’re pretty experienced,” Phillip said.
Once the koa trophy was in their hands, or Phillip’s hands, the Eagles chanted “For Keith!” again and again. Longtime Eagles coach Keith Sugiura was not at the title game. Athletic director Deren Oshiro said the coach was hospitalized. That was as much as his players knew, but the Eagles honored him with their sharp execution and gritty defense.
HBA committed just 13 turnovers, forcing the Spartans into 19. Seabury Hall coach Keone Labuanan is very optimistic about the future.
“We’re going to come back strong next year. We only have one senior,” he said. “This is a positive group and they’re fighters. We’ll be fine.”
HHSAA D-II State Tournament
|1||Feb. 6||Farrington vs. St. Francis||Far, 41-35||Damien|
|2||Feb. 6||Waimea vs. Waipahu||Waim, 59-48||Damien|
|3||Feb. 6||Ka'u vs. University||ULS, 54-40||Kalani|
|4||Feb. 6||Hanalani vs. KS-Hawaii||Han, 44-28||Kalani|
|5*||Feb. 7||St. Francis vs. Waipahu||Waip, 39-36||Damien|
|6*||Feb. 7||Ka'u vs. KS-Hawaii||Kau, 46-35||Kalani|
|7||Feb. 7||(1) Hawaii Baptist vs. Farrington||HBA, 50-29||Damien|
|8||Feb. 7||(4) Hawaii Prep vs. Waimea||Waim, 53-14||Damien|
|9||Feb. 7||(2) Seabury Hall vs. University||SH, 62-53||Kalani|
|10||Feb. 7||(3) Castle vs. Hanalani||Han, 63-50||Kalani|
|11*||Feb. 8||Waipahu vs. Kau||Waip, 52-38||Stan Sheriff Center|
|12*||Feb. 8||University vs. Castle||ULS, 52-49||Kalani|
|13*||Feb. 8||Farrington vs. Hawaii Prep||HPA, 47-38||Kalani|
|14||Feb. 8||Seabury Hall vs. Hanalani||SH, 55-43||Damien|
|15||Feb. 8||Hawaii Baptist vs. Waimea||HBA, 56-47||Damien|
|16*||Feb. 9||University vs. Hawaii Prep||ULS, 37-29||Stan Sheriff Center|
|17*||Feb. 9||Hanalani vs. Waimea||Waim, 72-60||Stan Sheriff Center|
|18||Feb. 9||Seabury Hall vs. Hawaii Baptist||HBA, 43-39||Stan Sheriff Center|
|* — consolation|