It was a clash of two hot teams in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I playoffs.
Kapolei had a defensive strategy to stifle Moanalua. The visiting Hurricanes just couldn’t take care of the ball. Moanalua forced the ‘Canes into 25-percent shooting and 30 turnovers for a 38-22 win on Tuesday night.
Moanalua, the fourth-place team from the East, advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I girls basketball playoffs. Kapolei, the fifth-place team from the West, finished the season 13-7.
Delylah Sanerivi was tough in paint with 18 rebounds and nine points. She also had four steals. Kelcie Leong solidified the backcourt for Moanalua with seven points, five assists and four steals. Sanerivi, Leong and Kyrah Hughley are the only seniors on the squad.
“We have this communication,” Leong said of her longtime teammate, Sanerivi. “She just gives me a look and I know we’re ready. It’s a special connection.”
The ‘Canes’ matchup zone created some hesitation in Moanalua early on. By halftime, though, the home team had some consistency. Na Menehune shot 4-for-7 from the field in the second quarter, but had a narrow 14-12 lead.
“We were ready for it,” Moanalua coach Tani Almont-Done said of Kapolei’s zone. “From here on out, we cannot come out like this. Everybody’s at the top of their game. Kapolei was hungry. They came out like their lives depended on it. We didn’t.”
Na Menehune started both the third and fourth quarters with a fury, though. Sticky, persistent defensive pressure out of their man-to-man created 30 turnovers by Kapolei. The ‘Canes’ point guard, Alexis Correa, had a solid game (nine points, seven steals), but even she got worn out by the third quarter carrying the load. Sydney Faumuina had seven points and seven boards, but struggled to get her shot off against the taller Sanerivi. Faumuina shot 3-for-10 from the field. Ashlyn Velasco hustled for seven rebounds and Trisha Faumuina tallied six rebounds.
Moanalua outscored Kapolei 13-4 in the third, punctuated by corner 3-pointers from Kylie Casinas and Mariah Borce. Then Na Menehune opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run to put the game out of reach at 35-18 with less than 5 minutes to go.
Borce finished with nine points (3-for-7 from 3-point range) and Casinas tallied eight points. Now Moanalua has less than 24 hours until a quarterfinal showdown with neighboring Radford at the Rams’ gym. The winner advances into the semifinal round and secures an automatic state-tournament berth. The loser will drop into consolation play with a chance to earn one of the final two OIA state berths. The OIA has six berths in all.
Moanalua shot just 28 percent from the field (12-for-43), but limited Kapolei to 25 percent (10-for-40), including 1-for-11 from 3-point range. Na Menehune committed 20 turnovers, but were still plus-10 in that category.
“The game is all mental at this point,” Almont-Done said. “Nobody’s going to get bigger or stronger. It’s all mental.”
Kapolei (13-7) 5 7 4 6 — 22
Moanalua (14-9) 5 9 13 11 — 38
Kapolei—Ashlyn Velasco 2, Sienna Alo 2, Alexis Correa 9, Tiffany Mook 2, Julia Velasco 0, Trisha Faumuina 0, Taelor Mesa 0, Sydney Faumuina 7.
Moanalua—Bree Louis-Merry 0, Kylie Casinas 8, Kyrah Hughley 0, Kelcie Leong 7, Raven Rosa-Lasco 5, Manu Itula 0, Mariah Borce 9, Delylah Sanerivi 9.
3-point goals—Kapolei 1 (Correa), Moanalua 4 (Borce 3, Casinas).