There was no doubt in Bobbie Awa’s mind that her Konawaena squad could beat top-seeded ‘Iolani.
The semifinal battle in the Snapple/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships began as a potential runaway when ‘Iolani opened a 9-2 lead.
The Wildcats settled in and rallied for a 15-14 lead that stuck for more than three minutes in the second quarter. Then, slowly and surely, it unraveled. The Raiders used fullcourt pressure to break the game open in the third quarter en route to a 43-22 win, ending Konawaena’s streak of four-consecutive state titles.
Konawaena’s roster is one of the youngest in the state with three juniors, including returning All-State Fab 15 forward Caiyle Kaupu, three sophomores and six freshmen. The Wildcats entered the tournament as the BIIF runner-up with a No. 8 ranking in the Star-Advertiser Top 10. After ousting Leilehua 61-41 on Monday and OIA champion Kahuku 46-42 on Thursday, the ‘Cats had great momentum.
Awa doesn’t find any consolation in knowing that her entire team returns next season. They once won a state title with three starting freshmen. Youth, she said, does not matter.
“We believe we’ll win every year. I don’t want to sound like we’re not very humble, but if we don’t believe it, I can’t coach that way,” said Awa, who guided the program to nine state crowns in the past 15 years.
Konawaena (13-5) got nine points and 14 rebounds from Kaupu, but it was a night of struggle. The Wildcats had far more turnovers (21) than field goals made (eight). The Raiders were taller and longer at every position but the post, where Kaupu battled for position, but faced double teams, and that’s only when the entry passes connected.
‘Iolani’s versatility, switching on the high screens that make Konawaena’s motion offense so effective, was consistent. The ‘Cats tired in the third quarter, and to Awa’s chagrin, didn’t execute their pressbreaker.
“Where’s our cutter, our flasher? They didn’t press us more,” Awa said of the third quarter.
The Wildcats were understandably disappointed after the loss. The last time any program won four straight titles was 1990-93 when Al Apo guided the Kamehameha Warriors. For the Wildcats, there tears.
“It’s a good sign,” Awa said. “They’ll work a little harder in the offseason. They’ll learn to create more contact and make the referees blow the whistle. What did we shoot, six or seven free throws?”
Konawaena was 5-for-6 at the foul line. The Wildcats will play OIA runner-up Kalani in the third-place game on Saturday.
“I hope we turn it around tomorrow,” Awa said of the early afternoon game. “I can’t even remember the last time we played at 1 o’clock.”
HHSAA D-I State Tournament
|1||Feb. 4||Konawaena vs. Leilehua||Kona, 61-41||Konawaena|
|2||Feb. 4||Maui vs. Kaiser||Maui, 55-44||Maui|
|3||Feb. 4||Radford vs. Kalani||Kaln, 70-43||Kalani|
|4||Feb. 4||Kamehameha vs. Mililani||KSK, 41-17||Kamehameha|
|5||Feb. 7||(1) 'Iolani vs. Maui||Iol, 67-32||Moanalua|
|6||Feb. 7||(4) Kahuku vs. Konawaena||Kona, 46-42||Moanalua|
|7||Feb. 7||(2) Waiakea vs. Kalani||Kaln, 73-57||McKinley|
|8||Feb. 7||(3) Lahainaluna vs. Kamehameha||KSK, 47-30||McKinley|
|9*||Feb. 8||Maui vs. Kahuku||Kah, 60-19||Stan Sheriff Center|
|10*||Feb. 8||Waiakea vs. Lahainaluna||Waik, 60-54||Stan Sheriff Center|
|11||Feb. 8||Kalani vs. Kamehameha||KSK, 62-49||Stan Sheriff Center|
|12||Feb. 8||'Iolani vs. Konawaena||Iol, 43-22||Stan Sheriff Center|
|13*||Feb. 9||Kahuku vs. Waiakea||Waik, 56-53||Stan Sheriff Center|
|14*||Feb. 9||Kalani vs. Konawaena||Kona, 52-44||Stan Sheriff Center|
|15||Feb. 9||Kamehameha vs. 'Iolani||Iol, 52-49||Stan Sheriff Center|
|* — consolation|
HHSAA D-II State Tournament
|1||Feb. 6||Farrington vs. St. Francis||Far, 41-35||Damien|
|2||Feb. 6||Waimea vs. Waipahu||Waim, 59-48||Damien|
|3||Feb. 6||Ka'u vs. University||ULS, 54-40||Kalani|
|4||Feb. 6||Hanalani vs. KS-Hawaii||Han, 44-28||Kalani|
|5*||Feb. 7||St. Francis vs. Waipahu||Waip, 39-36||Damien|
|6*||Feb. 7||Ka'u vs. KS-Hawaii||Kau, 46-35||Kalani|
|7||Feb. 7||(1) Hawaii Baptist vs. Farrington||HBA, 50-29||Damien|
|8||Feb. 7||(4) Hawaii Prep vs. Waimea||Waim, 53-14||Damien|
|9||Feb. 7||(2) Seabury Hall vs. University||SH, 62-53||Kalani|
|10||Feb. 7||(3) Castle vs. Hanalani||Han, 63-50||Kalani|
|11*||Feb. 8||Waipahu vs. Kau||Waip, 52-38||Stan Sheriff Center|
|12*||Feb. 8||University vs. Castle||ULS, 52-49||Kalani|
|13*||Feb. 8||Farrington vs. Hawaii Prep||HPA, 47-38||Kalani|
|14||Feb. 8||Seabury Hall vs. Hanalani||SH, 55-43||Damien|
|15||Feb. 8||Hawaii Baptist vs. Waimea||HBA, 56-47||Damien|
|16*||Feb. 9||University vs. Hawaii Prep||ULS, 37-29||Stan Sheriff Center|
|17*||Feb. 9||Hanalani vs. Waimea||Waim, 72-60||Stan Sheriff Center|
|18||Feb. 9||Seabury Hall vs. Hawaii Baptist||HBA, 43-39||Stan Sheriff Center|
|* — consolation|