The arrival of Lily Wahinekapu is no surprise.
The ‘Iolani junior landed at No. 1 — player of the year — in the Star-Advertiser Girls Basketball All-State Fab 15 published Sunday morning. Here’s a look at the 2020 class, which includes six sophomores and freshmen and just four seniors, the lowest count of 12th graders in a decade.
There were six freshmen and sophomores who made the team for the second year in a row.
Only one girl from the OIA broke the top 15.
Coaches give their thoughts on the players below.
1. Lily Wahinekapu
Guard, 5-7, Jr.
Composed and clutch, Wahinekapu led the Raiders with 16 points per game as they won a second state title in a row. She is the first POY from ‘Iolani since Erin Stovall (1997) and the first junior POY from the school since BJ Itoman in ’94. Wahinekapu is also No. 5 in the All-Defense voting by coaches and media.
Bobbie Awa: “Lily’s leadership and composure and Jovi’s maturity in her physical stature and growth mindset was evident on the court this year. They also have a great support system.”
Pua Straight: “Lily can do it all. She has a high basketball IQ, great ball skills, effortless athleticism, and an even-keeled disposition. Her IQ allows her to read the game beyond her primary defender, her athleticism and skills allows her to take full advantage of those reads, and her disposition ensures that she is always mentally present in the game. I also think she is an underrated defender.”
Chico Furtado: “Player of the year in opinion. The head of that ‘Iolani attack. She does so many things well. What impressed me most was her patience. She doesn’t play out of control. Her defense is underrated. Great on-ball defender.”
Dean Young: “Her ability to hit the big shots at key moments in big games. Her inner Mamba. She’ll make a play or get you a bucket when you desperately need it. Lily. When we were down late against Konawaena in the championship game and she told the girls in the team huddle, ‘I believe in you,’ then she takes an offensive charge against Caiyle Kaupu late in the 4th quarter of that game to kill their momentum.”
2. Caiyle Kaupu
Forward, 5-9, Sr.
Steady and best in big games, Kaupu scored 19 points per game, including 37 in a semifinal win over Kahuku, and 19 points and eight rebounds in the final against ‘Iolani. She was also No. 2 in the All-Defense voting. She is only the fifth player voted to first-team all-star in all four years. The others: Nani Cockett of Kamehameha, Brandy Richardson of Kalaheo, Chanelle and Cherilyn Molina of Konawaena. Kaupu signed with UC Irvine.
Awa: “Her leadership, confidence, composure and the ability to lead by example. being humble. watching her grow as a player. her personality, her leadership, her smile.”
Straight: “Caiyle is a big, strong, smart, and skilled post player! Her footwork around the basket is amazing. She reads the defense well, knows when to take it and when to pass it back out to her shooters.”
Furtado: “Is she still here? What a fabulous career. Got better every year and now a perennial all-star. Great finisher around the bucket, yet can stick the perimeter jumper. Demands double teams. I enjoyed watching her develop and competing against her, but glad to see her move on. Best wishes at Irvine.”
3. Kaliana Salazar-Harrell
Guard, 5-2, So.
Salazar-Harrell took the mantle often when defenses smothered Kaupu in the post. She scored 19 points per game and 22 per contest in BIIF play, often sitting out one to two quarters in blowout wins. She was voted most improved player by coaches and media.
Straight: “Can score in a variety of ways. Deadly 3-point shot. She can shoot off the dribble and is very savvy, confident, and composed in taking to the ball to the rim.”
Furtado: “Consummate point guard. Gets everyone involved and is steady with the ball. Play-making skills are top notch, yet she can score in so many ways. Like having a coach on the floor.”
4. Jovi Lefotu
Guard/Forward, 5-8, So.
Second only to older sister Lily Wahinekapu in scoring for the Raiders, Lefotu (13 ppg) was elite as a shooter (82 percent at the FT line) as a post and wing defender with 3-point range. Coaches and media voted Lefotu No. 3 in All-Defense.
Awa: “Jovi’s maturity in her physical stature and growth mind-set was evident on the court this year. They also have a great support system.”
Straight: “Very similar to her sister, Lily. Smart player that can do it all. She is also very strong and has a great ability to take it strong to the hoop with her weak hand (left hand).”
Furtado: “I believe she is ‘Iolani’s most improved player. Plays well beyond her sophomore status. She has a very well-rounded game, which makes her a matchup nightmare.”
Young: “Her development as our second leading scorer with her ability to take big defenders off the dribble or knock down treys was huge for our success. Her infectious smile. Always relaxed and happy. Her 18 points against Punahou to start the ILH season was a moment when us coaches knew she was ready for big things in her sophomore year.”
5. Alexis Huntimer
Guard, 5-8, Jr.
Huntimer’s efficiency doesn’t pop in standard metrics. As the No. 1 vote-getter on the All-Defense team, she is a shot-blocking guard who can start ‘Iolani’s fast break as well as she finishes it. She shot 83 percent from the FT line, hitting 13-for-13 at the state tourney, and was a weapon with rebounds, steals, deflections. She had 21 points in a semifinal win over Waiakea, hitting 10-for-10 at the charity stripe after being tripped and suffering a gash over her left eye.
Straight: “ ‘Jo’ Huntimer is one of the my favorite players to watch play the game in Hawaii High School basketball (boys and girls). In my humble opinion, she is the glue that holds that Iolani team together. Her basketball IQ is through the roof. She is such an unselfish player, does all the little things well, and steps up to do whatever her team needs. Assists, steals, tips, rebounds, all the little things that sometimes go unnoticed, she does them all and she does them well.”
Furtado: “Under-the-radar assassin. So long and smart defensively, controls offensive tempo and hits big shots. Clearly elevated her game to All-State potential. Makes ‘Iolani a three-headed monster.”
(Editor’s note: Huntimer was No. 13 on the Fab 15 last year.)
Young: “Being a true point guard running the team, taking care of the ball and looking to pass first was invaluable as well as her uncanny ability to get her hands on everything with deflections or steals. Her completely unselfish mentality is vital to our team culture. It starts with her. Getting tripped and cutting her head open against Waiakea then running back on the court from the locker room to seal the victory with 10 straight free throws was pretty special.”
6. Leiah Naeata
Guard, 5-7, Jr.
After two years as a wing and point guard, Naeata was often the Red Raiders’ de facto point center as a junior. She had 12 points per game, producing double-double numbers, and Kahuku repeated as OIA champion. Naeata is the first Kahuku girl to repeat in the Fab 15 since Latoya Wily, her current coach, did it in 2004. Naeata has a chance to be the First Lady Raider to make the Fab 15 three times.
Straight: “Leah is big and strong. She is smart, unselfish, and has a great ability to create plays for her teammates.”
Furtado: “Clearly the leader of that Kahuku team. Unselfish to a fault sometimes, always looking to involve her teammates. Big strong guard that is hard to defend.”
7. Aloha Akaka
Guard, 5-8, Jr.
The versatile point guard was a chameleon. Akaka (12 ppg) was the spark plug for a balanced Spartans attack, but could take games over, as she did with 26 points in a win over Kamehameha. Akaka was also voted No. 7 on the All-Defense team.
Straight: “Aloha has a high motor and is extremely athletic. She really stepped up this season and proved herself as a solid ball handler. She is able to hit the three, shoot off the dribble, attack the basket, and is great in the open court.”
Furtado: “Her overall athleticism and leadership were her greatest assets. The fact that she was willing to play out of position and run our point guard position shows her dedication to team first. She was still our leading scorer and go-to player. Never complains, always plays hard and a fun kid to coach. She has a calm demeanor. Nothing seems to overly bother or excite her. She is very steady in her manner and doesn’t get frustrated when things aren’t going well. Very even-tempered… She ran off the court and out of the gym in the third quarter in our big win over ‘Iolani because she was feeling sick and didn’t want to throw up on the court. She took about a minute of rest and went back into the game. She went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line down the stretch in the fourth quarter to secure the win. She plays through pain and sickness and always tries her best for our team. Relentless!”
8. Kelsie Imai
Guard, 5-6, Sr.
Relentless and aggressive at both ends of the floor, Imai (13 ppg) set the tone with her slashing drives. Imai poured in 21 points in a key win over Hilo. Waiakea later ousted MIL champion Lahainaluna and reached the state semifinal round. She is the second Warrior to be a three-time selection to the Fab 15. The other one is older sister Kamie (2008-10). Kelsie Imai signed with Hawaii.
Awa: “Kelsie Imai is an amazing athlete who excels in every sport she plays. We are looking forward to watching her play at UH.”
9. Serenity Moananu
Forward, 5-8, Jr.
Renowned for her strength in the low post, Moananu gave the Spartans a powerful presence inside and the occasional 3-point shot. She finished at 8 points per game as the Spartans finished second in the ILH.
Straight: “Serenity is one of the strongest players in the state. She is a versatile post player who can score in the paint back to the basket, but also has the ability to spread the floor and hit the deep three.”
Furtado: “The development of her perimeter game made her a double-threat player for us this year. Her improved 3-point shooting to go along with her inside power game made her hard to defend. She also grew into her role as a leader and our younger players really look to her for confidence. Serenity has overall maturity and care for her teammates. She is like the mother hen of our team, always making sure the little things are taken care of and that our younger players are OK. She is the most verbal of our leaders… I have two favorite memories of her: the leadership that she showed during our trip to California and the 16 points she scored in our win over ‘Iolani. When both Aloha and Mahalo took ill for a short period of time in the third quarter, Serenity held us together, hitting two big treys to give us a six-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. She carried us until the twins felt better.”
10. Malie Marfil
Guard, 5-8, Sr.
Marfil’s athleticism and tenacity made for a tough matchup even in the rugged ILH. Marfil was voted No. 8 on the All-Defense team. One of the best rebounders and mid-range shooters in the ILH, Marfil averaged 10 points per game. She signed with Alaska-Anchorage.
Straight: “Mālie was a very versatile player for us. She is an extremely explosive player who can handle the ball well, attack the rim, shoot off the catch, shoot off the dribble, and create plays for her teammates. She is also a great on-ball lock down defender… The memory that sticks out most in my head was before our first Saturday game in the McKinley preseason Tournament. When we arrived at the gym before the game, one of the referees pointed to Mālie and said, ‘I give that girl credit, she works hard. I just saw her shooting around at the gym in Nanakuli at 6 o’clock this morning.’ I always knew Mālie worked hard, but in that moment, I think I gained a new level of respect for her work ethic and commitment to working on her craft. I will definitely miss having her on the court for our team, however, what I will miss most about Mālie is her attitude and personality. She takes correction so well, and is such a positive girl who is always cracking jokes, smiling, and laughing.”
Furtado: “Incredibly athletic. She can score driving to the basket or hitting the trey. Great rebounding guard in our league.”
11. Keirstyn Agonias
Guard, 5-7, So.
The lanky, strong wing averaged 15 points per game and became the first Viking voted to the Fab 15 since Alexis Pana in 2016. Agonias is just the third Viking sophomore to make the list, joining Pana and Vicky Tagalicod (’08).
Awa: “Keirstyn Agonias is the most underrated player in the state. Because her team did not travel in both the preseason and postseason, the state was not able to see her showcase her talent. We’re looking forward to coaching her in this off-season again.”
12. Lishae Scanlan
Forward, 5-10, So.
Scanlan’s double-double totals, along with her shot-blocking prowess, make her the first Fab 15 selection from Hanalani since Sarah Liva in 2013. She is the first sophomore in school history to make the team.
Charlie Hiers: “To me, Lishae’s IQ in the situation. She’s gotten better at shot blocking, vertical, taking charges. Her defense is what she has really worked on from summer to now. Her just meeting the ball with at the proper apex, that helps you, not to mention she has the physical skills at well. Her blocks and steals, her point numbers weren’t as high as the past, but our scorers change every night. We know that we can put some pressure on knowing that she’s on the back line. It’s so valuable.”
13. Keeli-Jade Smith
Guard, 5-8, Sr.
The versatile guard was one of the Warriors’ top rebounders and scorers, pumping in nearly 10 points per game. She scored 15 points in an opening-round win over Mililani.
14. Taylor Eldredge
Guard/Forward, 5-7, So.
As the Lady Lunas struggled early on, Eldredge emerged as a key player. She broke out with a 16-point game against KS-Maui, then poured in 30 in a win over King Kekaulike as Lahainaluna went on to defend its MIL title. She also had 14 points against Waiakea and 21 against Moanalua.
Todd Rickard: She is probably one of the best shooters I’ve had in the whole time I’ve been here. I wouldn’t say she’s automatic, but she’s very high percentage. When she was a freshman, she didn’t want to shoot at all. This year, she kind of started slow again and she’s worked her way to where she is now. She has the long arms and she rebounds. She’s doing everything. Honestly, she could become really good. As she gets older, she’ll be dominating for sure. We just have to keep molding her and working with her.”
15. Ledjan Pahukoa
Guard, 5-7, Fr.
The lanky, athletic Pahukoa scored 13 points per game with 3-point range just inside the midcourt circle/logo. She averaged 13 ppg during the state tourney as Na Alii eliminated Radford and nearly upset Konawaena before losing 40-37.
Cy Peters: “A lot of times on the press, she’s our lead person. And she’s a decent rebounder. And she breaks the press. Her ballhandling skills are important to us, along with her shooting. She was vocal with me. She’s a freshman, so she didn’t communicate with her teammates as much as I’d like her to, but she did with me a lot… We played a team from Alaska and she had a big night shooting that night, from deep 3s. That stands out. And when we beat Lahainaluna for the first time in 12 years. Lahainaluna’s a great pressing team and she did a great job breaking the press for us.”
Coach of the year
Young is the first repeat COY from the ILH since Mike Taylor of Punahou did it in 2005-08. ‘Iolani went 25-2, losing only to Mater Dei (60-57) and Maryknoll (55-51).
* * * * *
1. Alexis Huntimer, ‘Iolani
The 5-8 junior was a human clamp on smaller point guards and bigger posts. One of the few with the potential to post at least five rebounds, five assists, five steals and five blocks in any game.
2. Caiyle Kaupu, Konawaena
Always one of the strongest defenders in the low post. A total neutralizer against the best scorers on the block.
3. Jovi Lefotu, ‘Iolani
Extremely versatile, able to cover any position, and turn on the after burners in transition.
4. Kylie Yung, ‘Iolani
Young: “I’m so happy for her. She’s the hardest working player I’ve ever coached. She was always asked to guard bigger stronger players but was always up for the challenge. I’m so proud of how she worked on her offense in the off-season and turned into a reliable scorer for us. She inspired the rest of our team with her work ethic. She put in a lot of work in the weight room which helps but on the court it’s her intensity. She goes into ‘beast mode’ when she’s locked onto an opponent.”
5. Lily Wahinekapu, ‘Iolani
Both Coach Straight and Coach Furtado call Wahinekapu underrated on the defensive end. She has more in common with Kaupu as a post defender, but is strong on the perimeter with quick hands in the passing lanes.
6. Taimane Faleafine-Auwae, Maryknoll
Furtado: “This is a good start to what I hope is a great career here at Maryknoll. She did what we needed from her this year: basket protector and shot blocker. With continued work on her game, her role and responsibilities will increased. I’m very pleased with her progress.”
7. Aloha Akaka, Maryknoll
Very quick feet, excellent lateral coverage. Also a strong rebounder.
8. Malie Marfil, Kamehameha
Long and strong, Marfil covered multiple positions and often overpowered foes for rebounds.
9. Serina Aumua-Tuisavura, Kahuku
Considered the team’s defensive specialist, Aumua-Tuisavura was assigned to many of the top scorers in the state. Her motor was non-stop. Rugged rebounder, tough to shake off when she covered wings.
10. Melody Lum, Punahou
Extremely quick hands, always in position to play the passing lanes for steals. Tremendous in transition.
1. Kiana Salazar-Harrell, Konawaena
2. Jovi Lefotu, ‘Iolani
3. Maya Claytor, Kahuku
1. ‘Iolani vs. Konawaena, HHSAA D-I final
2. Kahuku vs. Maryknoll, HHSAA D-I quarterfinal
3. ‘Iolani vs. Mater Dei, ‘Iolani Classic
2020-21 Preseason Top 4, D-I
2020-21 Preseason Top 4, D-II