Frankly, the Kamehameha Warriors weren’t interested in playing Sacred Hearts twice in a five-day period.
Instead of playing the host Lancers in the final of the Orthopedic Associates Sacred Hearts Invitational, Kamehameha coach Joseph Cho opted to switch spots with Waiakea after beating the Big Islanders on Friday in the semifinals. Kamehameha played Hawaii Baptist in what amounted to a third-place matchup. The Warriors overcame the resilient Eagles in a 49-41 win on Saturday afternoon at Dorothy Macy Nobriga Gymnasium.
The Warriors went ahead 32-31 just before the end of the third quarter on a bucket by sophomore Esther Naum. Kamehameha stretched the lead before an Ally Wada 25-foot trey cut the lead to 37-36. The Warriors answered with a corner 3 by Keenyn Santiago and hung on for the lose win.
Kamehameha (9-1) will meet Sacred Hearts on Thursday in an Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I regular-season opener for both teams.
Center Kalina Obrey led the way with 20 points, all in the first three quarters. Point guard Jewel Paaluhi-Caulk, who began game action this week for the first time season, added 11 points. No other Warrior scored more than six points, but sophomore Noelle Sua-Godinet controlled the paint with Obrey, swatting three HBA shots.
Obrey, named the tournament’s most outstanding player, drew triple teams from HBA’s 2-3 zone all game long. Paaluhi-Caulk, who hit one of Kamehameha’s two treys, credited injured teammate Kiana Vierra for the inspiration.
Vierra, a signee with UC Santa Barbara, suffered an ankle injury on Friday and will have an MRI done on Monday as a precaution, she said. Paaluhi-Caulk was simply happy to be back in uniform.
“Ohh, all I wanted to do is play with them, my ‘luvs’,” she said.
Obrey, an All-State Fab 15 selection in volleyball and basketball, kept attacking the rim despite HBA’s coverage. That helped open up the perimeter. Santiago, a sophomore, hit her biggest shot of preseason and Naum scored all five of her points in the third.
“We lost our leader,” Obrey said of Vierra. “But our bench stepped up.”
Vierra spent some of her time on the sideline hopping with excitement — on her good leg.
“I was jumping up and down,” she said. “Oww.”
Cho, meanwhile, is just glad his floor general is back, and that there were no more injuries.
“I’m just hoping Kiana is OK by Thursday,” he said.
After two tournaments, Cho has seen enough to warrant concern about several neighbor island teams.
“But I’ve got to worry about the ILH. Kamehameha-Maui, Lahainaluna, Waiakea, they will get there to the tate tournament. We’re no guarantee,” he said.
Without or without Vierra, the Warriors got plenty of competition from HBA (9-4), a Division II program without much height, but plenty of skill. Ally Wada finished with 18 points, bombing 3-pointers from NBA range in the first quarter for nine of those points. Wada, who finished with four treys, was selected to the all-tourney team.
Point guard Kyley Nakagawa was persistent in attacking the rim. She finished with six points, as did Nicole Arakaki. Katelyn Nakagawa had seven points, including two of HBA’s eight treys.
HBA, which lost to Sacred Hearts 68-57 in the semifinals on Friday, had beaten the D-I Lancers 54-43 on Nov. 22. The Eagles open ILH D-II play next Saturday against ‘Iolani II.