The Kamehameha Warriors began the season as a high-pace, high-scoring force.
It was week one, preseason action at McKinley in the Matsumoto Law Group Black and Gold Classic, where the Warriors strutted an impressive transition game that Coach Pua Straight wanted her team to embrace.
Three months later, the Warriors are still running when the opportunity is there. They just understand what they do best: pound the ball in to the trenches and swarm over opposing shooters from start to finish for 32 minutes.
Unseeded Kamehameha knocked out third-seeded Lahainaluna 47-30 on Thursday night in a surprisingly one-sided battle at McKinley Student Council Gymnasium. Kamehameha (17-6) lost to Lahainaluna during that week-one tourney, 46-39, and the residue of that experience never left.
The Warriors took command in three aspects.
>> They dominated the boards with a 37-16 edge. Noelle Sua-Godinet led all rebounders, grabbing 11 caroms along with six points, two assists and two steals. Kalina Obrey grabbed six boards and blocked two shots.
>> Kamehameha was outstanding in transition, getting big 3’s from Malie Marfil — 4-for-4 from deep — and Haley Masaki during fastbreaks. Obrey delivered a perfect pass in motion to Masaki to open the lead to 27-19 late in the third quarter.
>> The Warriors again clamped down on the perimeter. With Marfil, Masaki, Esther Naum and Camille Feary chasing and harassing Lahainaluna wings, Kamehameha again controlled its destiny via relentless on-ball pressure. The Lunas got a combined 8-for-25 shooting night from Luna posts Erin Hookano (4-for-11) and Susitina Namoa (4-for-14), but their guards shot a combined 2-for-16 from the field, including 0-for-4 from the arc.
Coupled with Kamehameha’s 41-17 win over OIA 3 Mililani on Monday, the Warriors are permitting a paltry 23.5 points per game. Mililani managed to shoot 15 percent from the field. Lahainaluna, ranked No. 2 in the Star-Advertiser Girls Basketball Top 10, shot just 24 percent.
Kamehameha is meshing at the right time, every player knowing her role, embracing the uniqueness of the job, and buying fully into Straight’s game plan.
Next up is Kalani in Friday’s semifinal round at Stan Sheriff Center.
“Were just going to go out and play. Defense is our main thing right now, and offense, it’s execution,” Straight said. “Those are the two things we can control. That’s our big focus, defense, defense, defense.”
The matchup with Kalani is the first time the teams will meet since Nov. 9, when Kamehameha won 69-65. Kalani doesn’t rely on post scoring, usually spreading the court in a five-out offense that normally neutralizes taller, more physical teams. If the Warriors’ perimeter defenders continue to lock down, that might put the onus on individual matchups between Obrey and Sua-Godinet against Kalani’s Kamalu Kamakawiwo‘ole and Shelby McDaniel, who are more comfortable on the wing.
Kamehameha is fast as any foe, but Obrey and Sua-Godinet are more than willing to exploit any weakness in the key.
“Their center left,” Obrey said of Kalani’s Kandyce Woods, who departed from the team before the state tourney. “That’s huge for us. We’re hoping to dominate inside.”
Another looming factor is Kalani’s dwindling roster due to departure and injuries. Kamehameha is deep, active and playing its best basketball of the season in a sometimes forceful, always purposeful manner. Lahainaluna doubled Obrey on just about every post move, every spin move, and limited her to eight points on 1-for-8 shooting, and still lost by 18. She had two blocks, two assists, and continued to attack the paint, drawing multiple defenders before distributing.
“I think everybody in the state knows Kalina is the girl we’re looking for. They know she likes that spin move, and they have two people, three people, so we’ve really been working on Kalina making those reads on those kicks,” Straight said. “And just talking to the other girls about really stepping up and hitting those shots. Malie hit a few, Haley hit a big shot, all off of those reads Kalina is making.”
Obrey and her teammates knew the second half could be golden.
“At halftime, we talked about how they were winded and we knew we had to keep going. We run all practice and we were still good. We still felt fresh, so we kept playing our game,” she said.
How do two evenly-matched teams become 18 points apart in a span of three months? The Lady Lunas haven’t played a Top 10 opponent since preseason. Kamehameha has faced a ranked opponent in nearly every ILH matchup.
“That definitely plays a big part,” Straight said. “We’re very used to being in close games against high-level teams, so that definitely gives us a little bit of an edge when we come an environment like this where we’re playing another good team, it’s close, there’s a lot of people. It makes a difference.”
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|