The Division I bracket of the Heide & Cook/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships followed the code.
In D-II, all heck broke loose. Every seeded team went down. Top-seeded ILH champion Damien lost to rival Sacred Hearts, 62-53. Second-seeded Hawaii Prep fell to Hanalani, 51-50, on a basket by the Royals’ Rylee Matsuda with 4 seconds remaining. Third-seeded Kauai lost to Hawaii Baptist, 34-29. Fourth-seeded Kailua lost to MIL champion Seabury Hall, 49-36.
That chaos sets up the semifinal round at Kalani’s gym on Friday night: Hanalani vs. Hawaii Baptist, 5 p.m., followed by Sacred Hearts and Seabury Hall.
There have been years when two or three unseeded teams advanced past the D-II quarterfinal round, but four? It took a spectacularly unusual alignment of the hoop stars for this to happen. Sacred Hearts overcame a 33-point performance by Damien’s Theresa Anakalea. KalysaMarie Ng scored a season-high 28 points, and seniors Cadee Paulos (16 points, six rebounds) and Dezaray Carter (eight points, 11 rebounds) led the Lancers on the floor.
This is only the second time in school history that Sacred Hearts has reached the semifinal round of the D-II state tournament. In 2007, the Lancers lost to Kamehameha-Hawaii in the title game, 57-30.
Longtime coach Dr. Richard Kasuya diagnosed their situation in the most abnormal of high school basketball seasons and never lost faith. Back in preseason, he and his staff were highly confident.
“For us, it’s a combination of things coming together. We have a more complete roster. Dezaray wasn’t available in the first two games (against Damien). She’s tremendously talented and a team captain. The other girls are getting healthy, playing confident and playing together in a good way. Things are coming together at the right time,” Kasuya said.
Ng is the younger sister of former St. Francis (and Kamehameha) standouts Kameron and Kordel Ng. Kameron Ng was a Star-Advertiser All-State player of the year and now plays for UH-Hilo. Kordel Ng was an All-State selection and now plays for Hawaii Pacific.
“Kalysa had a terrific game. She had 21 (points) in very limited minutes against Honokaa and we rested her. Cadee is a warrior, ice all over her body after every game and every practice,” Kasuya added.
Sacred Hearts used a mix of zones before going to their “shadow,” a diamond-and-one on Anakalea in the fourth quarter. Anakalea splashed a whopping eight 3-pointers.
“She was taking over the game,” Kasuya said. “And those threes were deep, even for her, those were really deep threes. She’s remarkable. Nothing but respect for her, Mark (Arquero) has done a good job. Damien is really, really good. Really scary, and Theresa is an amazing player, but we knew if we could control the tempo and get the shots we want, we could compete.”
Damien was 15-1 overall coming into its battle with Sacred Hearts. With a roster of only one senior, three juniors, three sophomores and two freshmen, Damien had also posted wins over Kapolei (50-28) and Campbell (52-50). (Campbell, by the way, went on to win the OIA title and ousted Waiakea in the D-I quarterfinals on Thursday.) The Lady Monarches endured ups and downs through the early part of the season due to protocols, but finished the ILH with a six-game win streak and a D-II title.
Two regular-season wins over Sacred Hearts by scores of 51-38 and 52-41 meant little in the state tourney. Sacred Hearts (13-9) had struggled mightily, losing five times in a six-game stretch in January, but coach Richard Kasuya and his staff remained confident. The Lancers have won seven games in a row since Feb. 5, including last night’s shocker over Damien.
Of all the quarterfinal opponents for seeded teams, Damien may have drawn the hottest one. Hanalani (11-4, 9-4 regular season) and HBA (12-9, 9-4 regular season) finished higher in the ILH standings, but Hanalani entered the season without former All-State forward Lishae Scanlan. HBA was 9-1 at one point, but suffered from injuries late in the regular season and finished 9-4.
Seabury Hall, now 8-2 after wins over Kamehameha-Hawaii and Kailua, was largely untested in MIL D-II play. The Spartans’ unseeded status is testament to that, If they make a run to a state title, Lanai can make a simple claim to be the only team to beat Seabury Hall not once, but twice.
Truth be told, ILH Division II has been the second best league, top to bottom, for many years now. The gauntlet of ILH D-I girls basketball drives the standard higher and keeps it at an elite level. Teams like Sacred Hearts, Hawaii Baptist (2016 and ’19 D-II state champion), Hanalani (2020 D-II state champion), Mid-Pacific (2017 D-II state champion) and more would be very competitive at the D-I level, but within the ILH, the balance and portioning of D-I and D-II girls basketball programs feels right.
This is also true: Sacred Hearts is probably playing the best basketball of any team in the D-II state tourney. Easily among the top three or four.
“I don’t feel that way. It’s very long and tough,” Kasuya said. “Seabury Hall’s been there before, they have great kids. I’m excited to play them, but I don’t feel like we’re favorites. I like the underdog role.”
Based on the numbers, Kasuya added, Sacred Hearts was somewhere around No. 11 among the 12 teams that began the tourney. That, of course, is not what Damien or any other title contender thinks now.
“We came on great. We didn’t have a great middle of the season. We knew we would have to fight and claw. Our mantra since we beat Mid-Pacific in the finals of the ILH (fourth-place) playoffs, no pressure, just opportunity. No nerves, just joy. We’ve been trying to preach that every day, at halftime of our games,” he said.
It is working.
“Usually by this time of the year, I’m a fan,” Kasuya said. “This is stressful.”
HHSAA D-II State Tournament
|1||Feb. 16||Seabury Hall vs. KS-Hawaii||SH, 51-42||Kalani|
|2||Feb. 16||Honokaa vs. Sacred Hearts||SHA, 71-35||Kalani|
|3||Feb. 16||Kalaheo vs. Hanalani||Han, 64-17||Waipahu|
|4||Feb. 16||Hawaii Baptist vs. Pearl City||HBA, 53-30||Waipahu|
|5*||Feb. 17||Honokaa vs. KS-Hawaii||KSH, 47-25||Kalani|
|6*||Feb. 17||Kalaheo vs. Pearl City||Kalh, 44-26||Waipahu|
|7||Feb. 17||(4) Kailua vs. Seabury Hall||SH, 49-36||Kalani|
|8||Feb. 17||(1) Damien vs. Sacred Hearts||SHA, 62-53||Kalani|
|9||Feb. 17||(3) Kauai vs. Hawaii Baptist||HBA, 34-29||Waipahu|
|10||Feb. 17||(2) Hawaii Prep vs. Hanalani||Han, 51-50||Waipahu|
|11*||Feb. 18||KS-Hawaii vs. Kalaheo||KSH, 48-34||Waipahu|
|12*||Feb. 18||Damien vs. Kailua||DMS, 59-39||Waipahu|
|13*||Feb. 18||Kauai vs. Hawaii Prep||HPA, 54-36||Waipahu|
|14||Feb. 18||Hanalani vs. Hawaii Baptist||HBA, 35-29||Kalani|
|15||Feb. 18||Sacred Hearts vs. Seabury Hall||SHA, 37-34||Kalani|
|16*||Feb. 19||Damien vs. Hawaii Prep||DMS, 69-50||Blaisdell Arena|
|17*||Feb. 19||Hanalani vs. Seabury Hall||Han, 44-30||Blaisdell Arena|
|18||Feb. 19||Hawaii Baptist vs. Sacred Hearts||5 p.m.||Blaisdell Arena|
|* — consolation|