LIVE BLOG: Kaiser Invitational

Roosevelt looks in mid-season form with a ultra-quick transition offense and crisp backdoor passes. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
Roosevelt looks in mid-season form with a ultra-quick transition offense and crisp backdoor passes. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)

Roosevelt 70, Honokaa 39
Lahainaluna 51, Punahou 50
Kamehameha 71, Moanalua 33
Konawaena 47, Kaiser 45

Several of the state’s top girls basketball teams are here for the Kaiser Invitational. The tourney began today (Thursday) and concludes on Saturday.

Konawaena 25, Kaiser 15, half
The Wildcats started strong and had a 15-point lead (or so) early on. Chanelle Molina looks every bit the playmaker and scorer that she was last year, and the ball is in her hands on every possession. By the second quarter, though, she began to defer, passing to teammates (who missed layups or lost the ball) rather than take the 10-foot jumpers in the paint.

Kaiser woke up in that second quarter and cut the lead to eight. The Cougars also began double-teaming Molina from end to end, a wise move by Coach Simon Bitanga.

It’s always amazing to me when Konawaena has teams like this: a core of two or three solid players, and a big dropoff after that. Similar to Mana Hopkins’ senior year, and a little like last year, the first season after Lia Galdeira and Dawnyelle Awa graduated. The Wildcats have plenty of potential and time. They have a solid post scorer and a pretty good wing in freshman Celena Molina (Chanelle’s sister), but finding that third scorer in transition, someone who can finish when Molina dishes the ball, that will be big.

Update: Big third quarter by the Cougars, turning steals and rebounds into breakaway layups. Nobody back for Konawaena several times as the Cougs took a 35-33 lead going into the fourth. Some notes: 1. Konawaena is not deep at all, and after their top two girls, it’s a big dropoff. They’re behind shooting-wise, ballhandling-wise and overall basketball IQ-wise, which means Coach Bobbie Awa has a huge coaching challenge this season.

The good thing is she has a strong player in #24 (don’t know her name yet). They can build something around her and Molina. Defensively, limitations. They’ve gone 2-3 zone all night, and now it’s apparent why. They’re going to have a tough time beating Honokaa in BIIF play unless Molina learns to take over a game. She’s only a sophomore, so it’s a process.

(Note: #24 is Jasmine Correa, a transfer from Seward, Alaska. “I miss the snow,” she said after the game. “But the people in Kona are really nice.”)

Update: Konawaena 46, Kaiser 45, Q4 1:06 – Fullcourt paying off for Kona. Celena Molina’s putback gives them the lead.

Final: Konawaena 47, Kaiser 45. Learned from Coach Awa after the game that two of the girls in the rotation have not played basketball before. That explains some of the mistakes, not to mention the normal first-game errors that most teams make.

All in all, though, for such an early time in the season, Kamehameha looked exceedingly crisp, and that was with Aloha Robins-Hardy not present (volleyball exhibition). Lahainaluna’s guards left an impression on me. They were athletic, but sometimes frazzled as young players a year ago. Now they are poised and ready, though they’re going to have to work on those foul difficulties.

Roosevelt was very impressive tonight. Yes, as Coach Hinano Higa mentioned after the game, they don’t have a lot of size inside. But they’ve got enough. Their bigs can handle the ball and stretch the floor. Their guards are solid with the ball and running in transition.

I wish I could see the entire tourney, but this is the only night I have free to watch and it was fun. Let the progress begin!

Final: Kamehameha 71, Moanalua 33
Warriors pushing the ball feverishly, getting the ball to the hoop with two passes. Warriors playing without Aloha Robins-Hardy, who is playing in the OC-16 exhibition volleyball tournament at McKinley tonight. Only eight in uniform for Kamehameha, but they’re doing fine.

Moanalua’s first-year head coach, former Radford coach Tani Dutro, is on the sideline.

Update: When she’s in the game, Kamehameha PG Tiare Kanoa is in control. She’s one of the few players I’ve seen so far today who can create her own shot, but is also a great passer.

Final: Lahainaluna 51, Punahou 50
The Lady Lunas committed seven fouls in the first 3 minutes to put the Buffanblu in the bonus, but their fullcourt pressure has made up for some of it. They’ve got some very good, long athletes who can push the ball upcourt and pressure on the ball fullcourt.

Punahou has new coach Kevin Velasco on the bench, and former head coach Mike Taylor is one of his assistants. It’s preseason, of course, but Punahou is using a lot of players tonight. When Taylor was head coach, his teams sometimes went 10 or more deep and often pulverized opponents into submission with bruising man defense.

Lahainaluna has sent its top players to Division I universities in recent years: Milika Taufa (Indiana) and former player of the year Maiki Viela (Gonzaga).

Refs are calling this game extremely tight. Could be due to the directive in the NCAA to enforce the hand-check rule.

Kinda funny: One of the nets is new and tight, so the girls basketball has a hard time getting through sometimes. Just hangs there stuck.

Halftime: Lahainaluna 26, Punahou 22.

End third quarter: Lahainaluna 36, Punahou 36.

Punahou’s Tyra Moe had a strong third quarter, dominating inside with rebounds and low-post buckets. Lahainaluna still aggressive defensively, doing a much better job dishing out fewer fouls.

Update: Lunas hit a clutch 3 to open a 48-42 lead, but they keep fouling Punahou — which is in the double bonus — for no reason at all. Lunas now lead 48-46 with 1:09 left.

Update: Punahou has the ball, down 51-50 with 7 seconds left after Lahainaluna missed the front of a 1-and-1. Lady Lunas have a 6:30 game at the Farrington tournament, which is 21 minutes from now. Helicopter for rent anybody?

Update: Charging foul on Punahou with :02 left. Lunas ball.

Lunas pull this out for a win despite the unnecessary fouls in the final few minutes. Punahou got a good look at a dozen or so players. They’re going to be much tougher once they pare down their rotation, if that’s the plan.

Note: Also on the Punahou bench — Keisha Kanekoa and Kii Spencer-Vasconcellos.

Honokaa has some talented individual players, but it's preseason and Coach Daphne Honma has time to put a special team together. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)
Honokaa has some talented individual players, but it’s preseason and Coach Daphne Honma has time to put a special team together. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)

Final: Roosevelt 70, Honokaa 39
Daphne Honma is back with the Dragons after a stint with UH-Hilo. She has been coaching forever. When I started covering high school sports in 1990, she was the girls coach at Honokaa. Some of the best players in state history — Kahea Schuckert and Keisha Kanekoa — came through the Dragons program.

Honma isn’t alone. Another former Honokaa head coach, Cheyenne Meyer, is also back helping out. That’s a lot of brainpower and coaching experience for a storied program.

This year, she’s got some talent back from last year’s D-II state contender. At this point, though, there’s work to be done. Roosevelt is crisp, sharp and fast. The Rough Riders are coached by Hinano Higa and continue to use their quickness and open-court skills to their advantage. They’re a lot of fun to watch.

I’m shooting video, so these games and the rest of the matchups tonight, including Konawaena versus host Kaiser, will be on Hawaii Prep World at some point.


3 p.m. Moanalua vs Honokaa
4:30 p.m. Konawaena vs Kamehameha
6 p.m. Kaiser vs Lahainaluna
7:30 p.m. Roosevelt vs Punahou

1 p.m. JV game – Kaiser vs Leilehua
2:30 p.m. Punahou vs Moanalua
4 p.m. Konawaena vs Roosevelt
5;30 p.m. Kamehameha vs Lahainaluna
7 p.m. Kaiser vs Honokaa


  1. George Kaeo November 19, 2013 4:32 am

    Latest and greatest: OIA Varsity Girls Basketball match last night @ Kaiser; Nanakuli 61 Kaiser 44.

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