Kalani handles BIIF champion Waiakea to reach semis

Kalani's Shelby McDaniel (22) shot over Waiakea's Jazelle Dorser (15) in the Falcons' win in the D-I state quarterfinals. Photo by Andrew Lee/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Kalani’s 73-57 win over Waiakea on Thursday night wasn’t shocking, but the domination the Lady Falcons demonstrated was.

Kalani (21-6) advanced to the semifinal round of the Snapple/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships and will meet Kamehameha at Stan Sheriff Center in a showdown between the runners-up from the OIA and ILH, respectively.

Waiakea, the BIIF champion, fell behind 9-2 and was never in the game despite a lot of hustle and effort. The Warriors didn’t utilize their tough fullcourt press until the fourth quarter, down as many as 23 points.

“We were waiting for them to press,” said Kalani senior Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole, who finished with 17 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks.

Kalani, the run-and-gun outfit that fell to Kahuku in the OIA final, relied on old-fashioned halfcourt man-to-man defense on this night. Waiakea scored 34 points in the final quarter, but until then, the Warriors shot just 9-for-47 from the field — 19 percent. With Kamakawiwo’ole dominating inside, there was no need for a lot of fullcourt pressure. The Falcons used it for a few minutes late in the first quarter, but pulled it before the second quarter.

“We chose not to press,” Kalani coach Chi Mok said. “Sometimes we spend too much energy on defense and it affects our offense.”

Once again, sophomore Kalena Halunajan was often unstoppable on penetration to the bucket. The guard scored 19 points on 9-for-12 shooting, but with the normal rotation chopped down, she had to play all 32 minutes. She committed four of her six turnovers in the final quarter as Waiakea sprung its fullcourt pressure.

Kalani’s Lilehina Oyama (5) drove past Waiakea’s Clarie Kaneshiro (5) on Thursday. Photo by Andrew Lee/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

This is why attrition is going to be a key factor for Kalani. With center Kandyce Woods gone — she left the team before the opening-round game on Monday — plus in-game injuries to Heidi Kishaba, Daesha Viela and Alayna Woods, the Falcons were up against the most adversity they’d faced all season.

“Everything happens for a reason,” said Shelby McDaniel, who had eight points and six rebounds for Kalani.

The Falcons got timely, valuable minutes from Lilehina Oyama, Mandi Haraga and Kira Niemi. Oyama and Haraga’s ballhandling and passing were crucial, and Niemi banged inside for five rebounds. Seldom-used Aiya Souphilavong also provided solid minutes in the second half.

The Warriors earned the high seed after beating Konawaena twice in the BIIF season. The first time, they ended Konaweana’s 124-game win streak in league play. The second time was in the league championship game on Konawaena’s home court.

Despite their frequent travel to Oahu each year in preseason, the Warriors looked out of sync at times. Kalani opted to stay back in halfcourt man defense rather than press fullcourt, and so did Waiakea, one of the quickest, if smallest, teams in the tournament.

One big question in the semifinals will be whether Kalani can stand its ground against a big, fast team like Kamehameha without Woods, a strong post who was valuable to the Falcon defense in immeasurable ways. She’s gone, though — “She quit,” Kamakawiwo‘ole said — and the Falcons aren’t looking back.

Another question: how will Halunajan, who played 32 minutes, and Kamakawiwo‘ole (29 minutes) respond in a back-to-back situation?

The teams haven’t met since Nov. 9, when Kamehameha won 69-65 at the Matsumoto Law Group Black and Gold Classic. Now Kalani gets its shot for a first-ever state semifinal win, even as the sight of Kishaba limping and Akiona on crutches sets off red alerts across Falcon nation.

Waiakea’s Destynee Williams (13) blew past a Kalani defender. Photo by Andrew Lee/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

HHSAA D-I State Tournament

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 4Konawaena vs. LeilehuaKona, 61-41Konawaena
2Feb. 4Maui vs. KaiserMaui, 55-44Maui
3Feb. 4Radford vs. KalaniKaln, 70-43Kalani
4Feb. 4Kamehameha vs. MililaniKSK, 41-17Kamehameha
5Feb. 7(1) 'Iolani vs. MauiIol, 67-32Moanalua
6Feb. 7(4) Kahuku vs. KonawaenaKona, 46-42Moanalua
7Feb. 7(2) Waiakea vs. KalaniKaln, 73-57McKinley
8Feb. 7(3) Lahainaluna vs. KamehamehaKSK, 47-30McKinley
9*Feb. 8Maui vs. KahukuKah, 60-19Stan Sheriff Center
10*Feb. 8Waiakea vs. LahainalunaWaik, 60-54Stan Sheriff Center
11Feb. 8Kalani vs. KamehamehaKSK, 62-49Stan Sheriff Center
12Feb. 8'Iolani vs. KonawaenaIol, 43-22Stan Sheriff Center
13*Feb. 9Kahuku vs. WaiakeaWaik, 56-53Stan Sheriff Center
14*Feb. 9Kalani vs. KonawaenaKona, 52-44Stan Sheriff Center
15Feb. 9Kamehameha vs. 'IolaniIol, 52-49Stan Sheriff Center
* — consolation

HHSAA D-II State Tournament

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 6Farrington vs. St. FrancisFar, 41-35Damien
2Feb. 6Waimea vs. WaipahuWaim, 59-48Damien
3Feb. 6Ka'u vs. UniversityULS, 54-40Kalani
4Feb. 6Hanalani vs. KS-HawaiiHan, 44-28Kalani
5*Feb. 7St. Francis vs. WaipahuWaip, 39-36Damien
6*Feb. 7Ka'u vs. KS-HawaiiKau, 46-35Kalani
7Feb. 7(1) Hawaii Baptist vs. FarringtonHBA, 50-29Damien
8Feb. 7(4) Hawaii Prep vs. WaimeaWaim, 53-14Damien
9Feb. 7(2) Seabury Hall vs. UniversitySH, 62-53Kalani
10Feb. 7(3) Castle vs. HanalaniHan, 63-50Kalani
11*Feb. 8Waipahu vs. KauWaip, 52-38Stan Sheriff Center
12*Feb. 8University vs. CastleULS, 52-49Kalani
13*Feb. 8Farrington vs. Hawaii PrepHPA, 47-38Kalani
14Feb. 8Seabury Hall vs. HanalaniSH, 55-43Damien
15Feb. 8Hawaii Baptist vs. WaimeaHBA, 56-47Damien
16*Feb. 9University vs. Hawaii PrepULS, 37-29Stan Sheriff Center
17*Feb. 9Hanalani vs. WaimeaWaim, 72-60Stan Sheriff Center
18Feb. 9Seabury Hall vs. Hawaii BaptistHBA, 43-39Stan Sheriff Center
* — consolation


  1. M.T. February 7, 2019 9:18 pm

    Just bad coaching by the Waiakea Staff. Couldn’t dictate tempo. Made minimal to zero adjustments. Had some mismatch opportunities and never too advantage of them. Dorser who operates from the elbow areas never had anything ran for her where she could take advantage of the defender in space. Sat back and rarely extender their defense with a much deeper bench. Asked Imai to do way too much. Rarely brought a high ball screen for her. When Kalani didn’t bring pressure could have had anyone other than Imai bring the ball up and rest her. She’s asked to do too much. Imai often out of position do to their offensive spacing. Coach having her attack from the worst spots on the court. Very vanilla defense. Many people of the blog like to bad mouth the Kalani coach and he severely outcoached the Waiakea staff.

  2. Imilicious February 7, 2019 11:18 pm

    Kalani has had the best staff in as long as Chi and Victorino have been around….their recordz and accomplishmentz speak for themselvez….Waiakea did some great thingz in the game and in the season….hatz off to them….kamalu winz we win….sorry candace thingz went down like that but like shelby said…..thingz happen for a reason….#Together

  3. Burgla February 8, 2019 1:21 am

    Their center was awesome, good leader but they still good. She was the threat all teams doubled. Kamalu will lead them to the title. Go falcons

  4. M.T. February 8, 2019 7:24 pm

    Waiakea coach spends too much time on Social Media and texting the kids without their parent’s knowledge. He really needs to spend less time on Instagram and more time studying film, reading books, scouting, and doing whatever he needs to improve his craft. He has so much talent and got eliminated in Game 1. Couldn’t make simple adjustments.

  5. Basketball4lyfe February 8, 2019 10:26 pm

    Good job to all the coaches . I’m sure they all try their best while giving their time to all the players . I know coaches are not perfect but I’m sure 99% of the coaches are out there for the right reasons

  6. Burgla February 9, 2019 1:09 pm

    No worries

  7. Burgla February 11, 2019 4:18 pm

    Kandyce didn’t quit; she left the team for her own reasons #together? People can only take so much and then it becomes about LIFE not basketball. She played till it became obvious that basketball was being used against her. Person before player; life before basketball.

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