Offense sells tickets.
Defense is appreciated by only a few.
When Kamehameha suffocated Mililani in a 41-17 takedown on Monday night, only Warrior fans and, perhaps, the spirit of the first king himself enjoyed the way this team advanced in the state tournament.
There were no chants of “Defense!” from the bleachers, and there were no defensive analytics printed out, but the Warriors delivered the basketball equivalent of a no-hitter on Day 1 of the Snapple/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships. Mililani, unbeaten in the OIA West, third overall out of Oahu’s public high school league, mustered 7-for-47 shooting from the field.
The theme was similar across the state as home teams swept through the opening round. Four-time defending state champion Konawaena smothered Leilehua in a 61-41 victory at Col. Ellison Onizuka Gymnasium. The visiting Mules shot 36 percent from the field (15-for-42) and grabbed just eight offensive rebounds. The Wildcats limited Leilehua’s leading scorer, Kaylen Kamelamela to eight points on 3-for-14 shooting. The senior had team-highs of six rebounds and five assists, but she also had four of the Mules’ 15 turnovers.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats shot a whopping 63 percent from the field (20-for-32), including 10-for-19 from the 3-point arc. On a night when Caiyle Kaupu was in foul trouble (six points, one rebound, three assists), Grace Lyn Hing exploded for 20 points on 6-for-7 shooting from deep. Freshman Kaliana Salazar-Harrell had 15 points and eight assists, plus seven rebounds, and Kayla Pak tallied 11 points.
Kaupu played just 12 minutes as the Wildcats turned a nine-point lead into 23-point cushion entering the fourth quarter.
Leilehua got 12 points apiece from Asia Castillo and Victoria Canencia. The Mules closed the season 11-5 overall. The book reveals that the school in Wahiawa went 0-3 against Top 10 foes (Mililani, Kalani, Konawaena) and also fell against three unranked teams (Castle, Radford). Leilehua went 11-2 against non-Top 10 teams.
At Kalani, the Lady Falcons overwhelmed Radford 70-43 in a matchup between OIA 2 and OIA 6. The Lady Rams are the same team that slowed Mililani to a crawl during a key OIA West showdown late in the regular season, losing 26-21.
There were almost as many points in Kalani-Radford’s first quarter as there were in that Radford-Mililani game. Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole (21 points) and the hot shooting of Alayna Akiona (18) powered Kalani, which also got 12 points from guard Lile Oyama and 12 more from Kalena Halunajan. Interestingly, center Kandyce Woods was not in uniform.
Manutangi Seei had 16 points and Angela Asaad added 10 to lead Radford, which closed the season 17-6 overall. The Lady Rams were 0-3 against Top 10 opposition and 17-3 against unranked teams.
Over in Kahului, MIL runner-up Maui stepped up with a 55-44 win over OIA 5 Kaiser in a game that was 34-32 after three quarters. Kaiser closed its season 16-12 overall, including 0-9 against Top 10 teams. The Lady Cougars were 16-3 against unranked teams.
The best name of round 1 belongs to Honey Let Padasdao, who led Maui with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Leiana Thornton added 12 points.
The red flag: the Sabers (13-10 overall) played at home before an emphatic audience, and still had nearly as many turnovers (18) as field goals (19). Maui also forced Kaiser into 21 turnovers.
The Sabers traveled to the Moanalua Peek preseason tourney earlier in the season, where they lost to Moanalua 48-46 and Maryknoll 64-32. In between, they beat Campbell 38-14. In week 2, Maui lost 53-50 to Sacred Hearts, which was in the Top 10 early in the campaign.
Maui enters the quarterfinal round with an 0-6 record against Top 10 competition. This is the same team that has lost to MIL dynasty Lahainaluna four times this season. No surprise. The Sabers also lost to King Kekaulike three times. Hmm. But when it mattered most, they walloped Na Alii twice for a state berth.
Now, the Sabers get to play top seed ‘Iolani on Thursday at Moanalua gym.
Thursday’s Division I quarterfinals
5 p.m. ‘Iolani vs. Maui
7 p.m. Kahuku vs. Konawaena
5 p.m. Waiakea vs. Kalani
7 p.m. Lahainaluna vs. Kamehameha
Most fans who have already seen state action this week would love to see all four quarterfinal games. A solution? Move one of these sub-brackets to Wednesday. Why make fanatical basketball spectators have to choose one site? Why not maximize attendance by making all four quarterfinal games available to all viewers?
The cost is literal. If Moanalua or McKinley sub-bracket moved to Wednesday, in theory, next year, one or two of the off-island teams would have one more day of expenses — hotel, transportation, food. That, in turn, leads to less revenue and a smaller slice of the pie for all participating HHSAA schools statewide. So it will never happen. Probably.