Kalina Obrey has been on this road before.
This time, the evolution of her game is a big reason for No. 5 Kamehameha’s stunning 49-45 win over No. ‘Iolani on Friday night at Father Bray Athletic Center.
Obrey pounded inside for 16 points and 14 rebounds, adding two blocks as the Warriors won their season opener in Interscholastic League of Honolulu play (6-2 overall).
“It means a lot, but it’s still early. We can’t take anything for granted. We’ve still got to work as hard as we would if we’d lost today,” said Obrey, a returning Star-Advertiser all-state Fab 15 selection. “Coming back even more hungry knowing there’s a target on our back now after beating the No. 1 team.”
It was the way Obrey and her teammates attacked the previously unbeaten Raiders that was intriguing. The senior did it all from the perimeter instead of posting up, drawing double- and triple-teams. That allowed her to get a number of sweeping, left-handed drives to the bucket. ‘Iolani wasn’t able to stop Obrey, who shot 5-for-12 from the field and 6-for-6 at the free-throw line.
“I like going to my left. I always have. It’s kind of a little bread-and-butter move for me,” Obrey said.
Obrey’s IQ is a huge edge for the Warriors.
“Kalina, I don’t have to ask her to do much. She just goes out and gets it. That girl is phenomenal. One of the things that makes her so good is her mentality,” Kamehameha coach Pua Straight said. “We tried to get her to post up, but ‘Iolani did a really good job. Once the ball goes in, they swarmed on her.”
The Warriors got key defensive stops on Friday. Straight rotated center Kaylee-Brooke Manuel and utilized the energy and long arms of forward Noelle Sua-Godinet. With their strength in the paint, the guards extended defensively. ‘Iolani shot just 5-for-17 from the 3-point arc. Defense gave the Warriors an edge when their relative lack of experience could not.
“Our main goals were to limit their transition points. We knew if we could take that away, we would have a good chance to win, and once they got into the halftime, try to match up with the shooters on the perimeter,” Straight said. “I mean, Taylor Wu can hit shots probably from just inside halfcourt, so we had to kind of extend to adjust. She’ll hit step-backs, as well.”
The burden of carrying a No. 1 ranking, plus an unbeaten record, may have weighed on the Raiders. They shot 7-for-19 from the field after halftime. Kamehameha played loose and composed, committing only three turnovers in the second half.
“I do have some girls with experience, but I have a lot of girls stepping into a lot bigger roles than they had in the past, and they did a really great job tonight,” Straight said. “‘Iolani is a great, great team. They’re so fundamental. They’re super well-coached. We’re just fortunate enough to come away with a win. It was a total team win by everyone from the girls on the court to the ones who didn’t play as much.”
The Raiders have depended on ferocious fullcourt pressure to create turnovers and score easy points, but Kamehameha committed only nine, including just three in the third quarter. That’s when the visitors took a 35-32 edge after there had been five previous lead changes.
‘Iolani took a 39-37 lead on an Alexis Huntimer corner 3 to begin the fourth quarter. Moments later, Wu’s bank shot pushed the Raiders ahead 41-39. But Manuel tied the game, hustling after her own miss for a putback, and Malie Marfil’s wing 3 gave the Warriors the lead for good, 44-41, with 4:30 remaining.
After not being in a close game throughout preseason and their first two games of the ILH season, the Raiders went ice cold. After Jovi Wahinekapu Lefotu’s turnaround jumper in the paint cut Kamehameha’s lead to 44-43, the Raiders didn’t score again until the final 5 seconds.
By then, the Warriors got a layup by Sua-Godinet on a pass from Alize Pratt, and a foul shot by Haley Masaki. After Pratt got two free throws to drop with 14.2 seconds left, the Warriors led 49-43.
Wu hit a 12-foot bank shot with 4.6 seconds left, but time ran out on the Raiders.
Marfil finished with nine points and the Warriors shot 46 percent from the field (19-for-41). After going 6-for-6 at the foul line, they shot just 3-for-7 there in the final quarter, but ‘Iolani didn’t attempt a charity shot in the last eight minutes. The Raiders were 5-for-17 from the arc and shot 38 percent from the field (17-for-45).
Kamehameha had a major advantage on the boards, 29-20.
Wu led the Raiders with 14 points and Wahinekapu Lefotu added nine points. Alexsandra Huntimer finished with eight points, but sat with foul trouble for much of the game,
Kamehameha used a 2-2-1 press to slow the home team down, just slightly, after the first quarter, and eventually what had been a fast-paced game slowed to a typical ILH crawl.
“We just tried to beat them by playing our own game. We cannot beat them by playing their game,” Straight said. “We tried to slow the pace down a little bit. We tried to use our length and our size, so we went into a matchup zone to try and be able to still use our length and size on offense, but not have it hurt us on the defensive end.”
‘Iolani hosts No. 9 Punahou (5-0, 1-0) on Monday.
“It’s better to lose now so we can learn from our mistakes and come in stronger for the next game,” junior Kylie Yung said. “It’s a wake-up call for us.”
The Warriors host No. 2 Maryknoll (10-1, 0-1) on Wednesday. Maryknoll lost at home to ‘Iolani two days ago. The Warriors, Obrey said, won’t have any emotional letdown.
“Our coaches are great. They’ll pull us back if we get out of our heads,” she said.
Kamehameha (6-2, 1-0) 7 20 19 12 — 49
‘Iolani (10-1, 2-1) 12 16 8 9 — 45
Kamehameha: Maddison Mangalao 0, Malie Marfil 9, Esther Naum 2, Haley Masaki 3, Tehani Malterre 3, Alize Pratt 6, Noelle Sua-Godinet 4, Kalina Obrey 16, Kaylee-Brooke Manuel 6.
‘Iolani: Alexis Huntimer 3, Taylor Wu 14, Kyra Tanabe 2, Jovi Wahinekapu Lefotu 9, Kylie Yung 5, Kanoe Kahalehoe 4, Alexsandra Huntimer 8.
3-point goals—Kamehameha 2 (Malterre, Marfil), ‘Iolani 5 (Wu 2, Alexis Huntimer, Lefotu, Yung).