Lockdown defense lifts Kamehameha into semis

Kamehameha's Camille Feary (11) broke away for a layup against Lahainaluna. Photo by Andrew Lee/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

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

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. Burgla February 8, 2019 12:55 am

    Shout out Kandyce Woods! A force to be reckoned with in high school. On to the next level! Go Falcons!

  2. Basketball fanatic February 8, 2019 3:34 am

    How you shout out to a player who quit on her team?
    Why is because she didn’t start in the OIA playoffs?

  3. Str8Curve February 8, 2019 8:48 am

    Without any information regarding why she left the team, the optics are very bad for her. It does look as if she’s upset about not getting enough playing time in the OIA playoffs. If so, these are actions of a selfish, entitled individual. No place for a person like that in a team sport. Best of luck and good riddance.

  4. Autumn February 8, 2019 9:52 pm

    I agree with Burgla! Kandyce was nothing but a threat in the paint. I give her credit for standing up for herself. Quitting proabably wasn’t an easy decision considering she played on the varsity from her freshman year, therefore there probably was a legitimate reason why she left the team if you think about it. So shout out to you, Woods! You have a bright future ahead of you!

  5. Ballah808 February 8, 2019 10:51 pm

    Woods is an amazing player and it breaks my heart to see her on the opposite side of the court from her teammates, but she did what she had to do. It takes a lot of maturity and courage for someone so young to take a stand for themself. I give Kandyce a lot of credit and can’t wait to see her move on from this and dominate on the next level.

  6. Burgla February 9, 2019 4:20 pm

    Basket ball fanatic huh? Str8 curve huh? Kandyce was born better than you. If you don’t know facts; shut up. She is and always will be better than you. She knows haters like y’all hate. Guess what it doesn’t bother her AT ALL! So continue to hate cause she great! You bums!

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