Kevin Kiernan had been optimistic.
Cautiously optimistic. Coming into Mater Dei’s matchup with host ‘Iolani, the Monarchs and their coach had already seen the Raiders play as early as Monday. ‘Iolani routed No. 3 Kamehameha at Kekuhaupio Gym that night. Then Kiernan and his team saw the Raiders overwhelm Radford on Thursday in the opening round of the ‘Iolani Prep Classic.
All their preparation helped to an extent, but Kiernan decided to put his team’s energy into using their strengths. They cut backdoor with precision, and all that height — with 6-foot-3 Brooke Demetre and 6-1 Meaali‘i Amosa passing out of the high post — proved invaluable for the nationally-ranked team against Hawaii’s No. 1 squad. Mater Dei, ranked No. 18 in the USA Today Super 25, rallied for a 60-57 win over ‘Iolani on Friday night.
Mater Dei improved to 9-1. The loss was ‘Iolani’s first after opening the season with 10 victories.
“We basically outscored them. We couldn’t stop them,” Kiernan said. “They do a great job of running their offense. We really never could get in a rhythm defensively. I give the credit all to them. They’re a very good team. We knew that coming in. We knew it would be a tough game.”
Kiernan had said on Thursday after a quarterfinal win over Kamehameha that his team is at its best when it shares the ball. That’s the blueprint that ultimately brought them victory over the home team in a near-capacity gym.
“If we played five more minutes, we might not have won,” Kiernan said.
Ayana Johnson led the Monarchs with 13 points and nine rebounds, including a backdoor layup that gave them the lead for good with 2:26 left. Demetre, the Stanford commit, added 11 points and seven boards and Meaali‘i Amosa added 10 points and six caroms.
Jovi Lefotu paced ‘Iolani with 17 points, including three 3-point bombs in the opening quarter as the Raiders were in shootout mode. Mater Dei’s Anna Bradley was equally unshakable, splashing three treys of her own during the first quarter.
Lily Wahinekapu scored 14 points and Alexis Huntimer tallied nine. With Mater Dei going to a 2-3 matchup zone in the second half, the Raiders had their share of open looks from the perimeter, but cooled off down the stretch. After shooting 7-for-22 (32 percent) from the arc in the first three quarters, ‘Iolani shot 1-for-8 from deep in the final period.
“Outstanding. The effort, the teamwork, outstanding. The girls played their hearts out. That’s all you can ask for,” Raiders coach Dean Young said.
The atmosphere was electric. Mater Dei’s fans were louder than ‘Iolani’s backers, chanting defense much of the night. When the Raiders rallied from a 41-33 deficit to take the lead, Monarch fans were at their loudest. ‘Iolani led 51-48 entering the fourth quarter.
The game went back and forth. Then Kylie Yung’s and-1 three-point play in the paint off a dish from Wahinekapu gave ‘Iolani a 57-56 lead with 2:43 left.
“We were right there. Things could’ve gone either way at the end,” Young said. “I’m super proud of them. They’ve got girls we just can’t physically stop. She (Demetre) is 6-3 and shooting jumpers over you from five feet away. You can contest it, but’s that’s all you can do.”
This isn’t the first heartbreak for ‘Iolani in its tournament. There was a one-point loss by the boys against Montrose Christian in the 2002 quarterfinals. Montrose got a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the win and wound up finishing third. The Raiders closed that edition in fifth place.
The girls’ loss to Mater Dei tonight had a faster tempo, a lot of pace, and a lot more scoring opportunities. The Raiders took the loss in stride, though. By the time the teams were done with post-game handshakes, ‘Iolani was back to having fun, posing for group pictures.
‘Iolani will meet Oregon powerhouse South Medford for third place on Saturday. The Panthers lost to St. Mary’s 62-46 in the other semifinal.
Mater Dei (Calif.) 60, ‘Iolani 57, semifinal
St. Mary’s (Calif.) 62, South Medford (Ore.) 45, semifinal
Konawaena 66, Kahuku 40, consolation
Kamehameha 63, Radford 27
2:30 p.m. Radford vs. Kahuku, seventh place
4 p.m. Kamehameha vs. Konawaena, fifth place
5:30 p.m. South Medford vs. ‘Iolani, third place
7 p.m. St. Mary’s vs. Mater Dei, championship
St. Mary’s (Stockton, Calif.) 62, South Medford (Ore.) 45
Amaya Oliver did it again, scoring 23 points as the Rams played tough defense to slow the speedy Panthers. Freshman Nia Anderson added 12 points, including three 3-pointers, and senior Monique Vasquez added 11 points. Kaili Chamberlin led the cold-shooting Panthers with 11 points.
The Rams were ice-cold early on and relied on their 2-2-1 press to slow the speedy Panthers down. After Anderson sank back-to-back treys, including one off the glass, St. Mary’s led 21-12 with 6 minutes to go in the first half. They opened the lead to 13 points before intermission.
No. 2 Konawaena 66, No. 8 Kahuku 40
Kiana Salazar-Harrell poured in 28 points, including 7-for-9 from 3-point range, and five steals for the Wildcats. Freshman Braelyn Kauhi added 19 points, including 5-for-8 from the arc. Kauhi also dished four assists, all in the first half.
The Wildcats shot lights-out from the start, opening a 10-0 lead and a 26-point margin (46-20) by halftime. They shot 9-for-12 from the arc in the first 16 minutes. In the opening period, they were 4-for-7 with two treys by Salazar-Harrell and one each by Grace Hing and Kauhi. In the second quarter, Kauhi got hot and hit all three of her long-range shots, and Salazar-Harrell hit two more. Konawaena was 5-for-5 from the arc in the second quarter.
Konawaena cooled off in the second half but led 55-29 after three stanzas. The ‘Cats finished the game 12-for-20 from the arc. Caiyle Kaupu finished with seven points and seven rebounds, plus three blocks and three assists.
Maya Claytor led the Lady Raiders with 12 points, shooting 3-for-8 from the 3-point line. Leiah Naeata added seven points and seven boards, and Trisha Faumina had seven and four.
No. 3 Kamehameha 63, Radford 27
Camille Feary splashed six 3-pointers and led the Warriors (6-3 overall) with 23 points. Maddison Mangalao added nine. Kailani Tenorio paced Radford with eight points. The Lady Rams currently share first place in the OIA West at 2-0 (5-4 overall).
Kamehameha led 32-13 at the half.