‘Iolani’s Dean Young focused on stopping two of the best players in the state in tonight’s title tilt

Konawaena's Caiyle Kaupu scored 37 points in a semifinal win over Kahuku and is one of the best players in the state according to 'Iolani coach Dean Young. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

Dean Young has seen the game from many angles.

He’s not exaggerating in the slightest, he says, when he states that Konawaena’s Caiyle Kaupu and Kaliana Salazar-Harrell are at the top of the list in Hawaii girls basketball.

Young guided ‘Iolani to the state championship last year, and after wins over Moanalua and Waiakea, the Raiders are in prime position going into tonight’s matchup with second-seeded Konawaena.

“Konawaena is tough. Two of the best players in the state. They’re difficult to stop,” Young said. “Absolutely. Are you kidding me? Thirty-seven points tonight (by Kaupu). We’re going to have to mix it up and throw different things at her. Try to control Caiyle because she’s bigger than anybody we have. If she scores 37 points (again), we’ll be in trouble.”

Kahuku had some positioning issues and didn’t front Kaupu as often as coach Latoya Wily had planned. ‘Iolani has mastered the methods of containing offensive scorers on the block. They often did it with Kylie Yung and Alexsandra Huntimer working in tandem.

“You can’t guard her one-on-one. We can’t. Maybe Kahuku did because they’re big and strong. They did front (Kaupu) a few times and got lobbed over,” Young said. “If you’re not working as a team to cover her, it’s impossible to stop her.

The sophomore, Salazar-Harrell, has played with an elite IQ and instincts of a much older playmaker.

“Salazar-Harrell is so fun to watch. She’s smart, she’s getting craftier. She’s savvy,” Young said. “She’s such a scorer. She’s tough. She’s got a great hesi, a great step-back.”

Defense was key, as always, for the Raiders all season long, and again on Friday. They keyed on Waiakea senior Kelsie Imai, who still scored 14 points. Waiakea never got into their rhythm for long, though.

“Imai is the engine. First, Lily (Wahinekapu) took the first shot at her. Our goal was she gets no touches in the paint, she doesn’t get to the paint with the ball,” Young said. “She’s such a great player, she got in, but as much as possible, we have to prevent that. She’s so dangerous. She has a great (hesitation move) and a great spin move. You’ve got to help early and you’ve got to help often. As a team, we did our best and played well enough defensively.”

The Raiders were willing to sacrifice some perimeter coverage.

“We just reminded them, we’re going to protect the paint, make them kick out and just close out hard. We’ll live with that,” Young said.

Jovi Lefotu was instrumental with 13 of ‘Iolani’s 22 first-half points.

“She had a little bit of a low-energy game (on Thursday). She wasn’t herself. We talked about her really coming on today and showing what she could do,” Young said. “She had a good matchup. She had a big post on her chasing her around the court. We knew if she was aggressive, she would get into the paint.”

Wahinekapu was beastly with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Pushing the fastbreak. Banging inside. Young may be stretching the truth when he says Konawaena has the two best players. Wahinekapu can often do the work of five position players. The question really is, who will stop Lily? And if anyone does, who stops Alexis Huntimer, who hit three treys, went 10-for-10 at the foul line in the final 3 minutes and finished with 21 points, three blocks and three steals despite a cut over her left eye with 4 minutes left.

HHSAA Division I Tournament

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 3Moanalua vs. KaiserMoan, 34-28Moanalua
2Feb. 3Waiakea vs. MililaniWaik, 55-42Waiakea
3Feb. 3Radford vs. King KekaulikeKK, 61-35King Kekaulike
4Feb. 3Maryknoll vs. KalaniMryk, 59-42Maryknoll
5Feb. 6(1) 'Iolani vs. MoanaluaIol, 65-31Moanalua
6Feb. 6(4) Lahainaluna vs. WaiakeaWaik, 37-26Moanalua
7Feb. 6(2) Konawaena vs. King KekaulikeKona, 40-37Kalani
8Feb. 6(3) Kahuku vs. MaryknollKah, 43-27Kalani
9*Feb. 7King Kekaulike vs. MaryknollMryk, 69-40Blaisdell Arena
10*Feb. 7Moanalua vs. LahainalunaLah, 52-39Blaisdell Arena
11Feb. 7Konawaena vs. KahukuKona, 56-39Blaisdell Arena
12Feb. 7'Iolani vs. WaiakeaIol, 57-44Blaisdell Arena
13*Feb. 8Maryknoll vs. LahainalunaMryk, 50-38Blaisdell Arena
14*Feb. 8Kahuku vs. WaiakeaWaik, 56-44Blaisdell Arena
15Feb. 8Konawaena vs. 'IolaniIol, 55-46Blaisdell Arena
* — consolation


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