No. 1 ‘Iolani prevails over No. 9 Punahou

The bounce-back is often easier said than done, especially with so many giveaways.

Coming off a loss to Kamehameha, the No. 1-ranked ‘Iolani Raiders got a resilient performance from senior Taylor Wu and gritty effort from sophomore Alexsandra Huntimer in a 52-37 win over No. 9 Punahou on Monday night at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

‘Iolani improved to 3-1 in Interscholastic League of Honolulu girls basketball action (11-1 overall). Punahou is now 1-1 in league play (5-1 overall). Wu led the Raiders with 14 points, while Huntimer tallied 12 points and seven rebounds.

“We really had to stop their dribble-drive and we had to also break their press. They run the same thing as us,” said Kyra Tanabe, who hit three treys for nine points.

The win caps a stretch of three games in five days for ‘Iolani.

“We just have to stay hydrated, keeping well connected. Our captains do really well at keeping us together, keeping us as a team,” Tanabe said.

There is little rest for the weary. The Raiders host the ‘Iolani Classic from Thursday through Saturday.

“Hopefully, we have a sharp practice. We weren’t that sharp tonight,” Young said. “It was such a different scheme from Kamehameha, how we’re going to defend Tama (Fonoti). We were really concerned. We’re so undersized. When we leave our shooters to help out on Tama, we leave them open. We’ve just got to help out, keep a high hand and just play. Once she gets the ball, we’re really vulnerable. The goal was to not let her get the ball.”

Derailed by fouls, the 6-foot-4 Fonoti finished with three points.

The more experienced Raiders shot 6-for-14 from 3-point range (43 percent) and 71 percent at the foul line (15-for-21). Punahou couldn’t get consistency on offense and shot 3-for-15 from the arc and just 4-for-5 at the free-throw line.

“We didn’t shoot the game we normally do. We’ll work at finishes at the buckets and we’ll be fine,” Buffanblu coach Gary Pacarro said. “‘Iolani is a seasoned group. Them and Kamehameha, they come ready to play. Dean (Young) has a great bunch of kids. They’ve been playing together well.”

The Buffanblu hustled defensively, forcing the visitors into 17 turnovers. Punahou had just 12 giveaways.

“Our defense was awesome. That’s the best defense we’ve played all year. We’re gaining the confidence,” Pacarro said. “Once this group understands who they are, we’ll be able to battle with everyone. I’m really proud of all of them.”

The game was close early on and wasn’t a double-digit margin until the second half. The visiting Raiders actually committed an uncharacteristic eight turnovers in the first quarter against Punahou’s fullcourt press. It is the same 1-2-1-1 coverage over three-quarters of the court.

“Coach Dean said we need to pass first instead of dribble,” Tanabe said.

“We had to make an adjustment because they weren’t trapping right away,” Young said. “It was a little bit of a delayed trap. Our spacing was bad.”

Even with the errors, the Raiders led 13-10 after one quarter. Punahou’s platoon system kept the defensive pressure on. So did coach Gary Pacarro’s move from halfcourt man-to-man defense to a 2-3 matchup zone.

“That’s something that I almost never do,” he said.

It worked through the first four minutes of the second quarter. After Kiarra Young splashed a corner 3, Punahou led 16-15 with 4:31 left in the second quarter.

‘Iolani then showed its speed and moxie with a 13-2 run to close the first half. The Raiders committed just one turnover in the second quarter and led 28-18 at intermission.

Fonoti was called for her fourth personal foul with 7:49 left in the third quarter. ‘Iolani then extended the lead to 31-20 on foul shots by Wu and Kylie Yung.

Punahou chipped into the lead and got within after an and-1 drive by Sina Uluave. The Raiders then called time out with 2:52 left in the third quarter, and the home team never got closer.

A hyper-speed run up and down the court left the Raiders with a 7-0 run, opening the lead to 50-33 with less than 4 minutes remaining. Wu hit a corner three on a feed from Alexis Huntimer, Yung hustled for a putback and Wu went coast-to-coast for a tough layup. Tanabe sank the last of her three treys to cap the run.

At Hemmeter Fieldhouse
‘Iolani (11-1, 3-1 ILH) 13 15 12 12 — 53
Punahou (6-1, 1-1 ILH) 10 8 13 6 — 37
‘Iolani: Alexis Huntimer 0, Taylor Wu 14, Kyra Tanabe 9, Jovi Wahinekapu Lefotu 6, Kylie Yung 6, Kawai Kahalehoe 6, Alexsandra Huntimer 12.
Punahou: Caitlyn Andrade-Tomimoto 6, Aleah Liilii 4, Kiarra Young 3, Taylor Hange 2, Hannah Urbano 2, Tara Kaneshiro 2, Melody Lum 7, Tatianna Burciaga-Reyes 5, Sina Uluave 3, Heaven Hense-Dorroh 0, Tama Fonoti 3.
3-point goals—‘Iolani 3 (Tanabe 3, Kahalehoe 2, Wu), Punahou 3 (Young, Lum, Burciaga-Reyes).


  1. Mahatma Gandhi December 11, 2018 6:52 pm

    Iolani Red raiders want to make their name in basketball and volleyball, both sexes. they have conceded football to win at all costs St Louis football academy.

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