The Konawaena Wildcats continue to confound doubters.
If there are still any left. The Wildcats won nine state championships in a 15-year span. That included three in a row until last season, when ‘Iolani captured the koa trophy.
With only eight players in uniform on Wednesday afternoon, Konawaena seemed outmanned once again. Punahou brought its fullcourt pressure and run-and-gun fastbreak, but Konawaena broke a tie game in the fourth quarter for a 57-42 win over Punahou at the Matsumoto Law Group Black & Gold Classic at McKinley Student Council Gymnasium.
Caiyle Kaupu, who committed to UC Irvine in the offseason, led Konawaena with 20 points in the team’s first preseason game of the new season. Sophomore Kaliana Salazar-Harrell added 14, including several key buckets on tough drives in the final quarter.
“It’s about heart,” said Kaupu, covering her chest with a hand. “It’s all in here.”
In other matchups, ‘Iolani roared to a 10-0 lead and routed Lahainaluna 45-31. Lily Lefotu Wahinekapu led the Raiders with three treys in the opening quarter and finished with 13 points. Her younger sister, Jovi Wahinekapu Lefotu, added 11 points.
In the late game, Aloha Akaka led a hot-shooting Lady Spartans squad to an 82-14 win over host McKinley. Akaka finished with 22 points, including three of her team’s 12 3-pointers. Kyla Neuman tallied 16 points and Lily Koki chipped in 11. Ashley Akamine and Kiera Kaniho led Lahainaluna, which has won 162 consecutive games in MIL play, with eight points each.
Mid-Pacific won the opening game, 42-28, over Kalani. Madi Sagawa scored eight of her team-high 13 points in the second quarter. Lilehina Oyama and Hallie Birdsong led the Lady Falcons with eight points each.