It would seem that Roosevelt has hit a plateau and Moanalua is peaking.
Seems. Based on last night’s battle, a 49-43 double-overtime epic, it could be reasonable to assume that stance. Here’s more about the game.
• Moanalua mixed 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones to stifle Roosevelt, which was 6-for-18 from the 3-point arc. Though Mikela Thoemmes had 14 rebounds, Roosevelt’s edge on the glass was just 30-26. Each team had 20 turnovers.
• Some coaches don’t buy into moral victories. Then there’s Moanalua coach Kristie Morikawa, who never gets carried away with a win or loss. She sees the bigger picture.
“I’d love to win, but we’ll take this,” she said. “The first two times we played them, it was not like this. We’re getting better and the timing is perfect.”
She’s right. Roosevelt won by 58-31 and 44-32 scores during the regular season.
• Moanalua has just enough size and agility in the post to give opposing teams trouble in the paint. Really, can this be possible for a defense that allowed Thoemmes to score 35 points early in the season?
“Moanalua’s a very good team,” Thoemmes said. “They’re sizzling hot and winning against everybody. Mentally, we did good. We were ready for whatever happened.”
Thoemmes was crowded and smothered in the post by Moanalua defenders, probably better than any foe all season. She finished 4-for-14, missing a few gimmies simply from rushing a bit — that happens when touches are limited — but she maintained her court awareness.
“Mikela was patient, but we didn’t shoot the ball well from the perimeter. Moanalua shot well. Their defense picked up,” Roosevelt coach Hinano Higa said. “Hat’s off to Kristie. They’re going to surprise some teams at states.”
Roosevelt has been consistently the second-best team in the OIA. We can now agree that Moanalua, which moved into the Star-Bulletin Girls Basketball Top 10 this week, is third-best.
• A major step forward for Moanalua has come in offensive confidence. Sure, they’ve always been unselfish as a unit. Joanna Nicolas, playing on a torn ACL, is still efficient and sets the tone. A.J. Verdida and Jasmine Funtanilla hit key perimeter shots. Between the three of them, Moanalua has a nice core of slashers with 3-point range.
Add to that the emergence of sophomore Kiley Lau as a solid ballhandler and proficient pull-up jump shooter from 17 feet in, and Moanalua has plenty of firepower.
That’s not just offense, but significant addition in a year when talent statewide is slightly down. Moanalua isn’t just a team struggling to get into the state tourney any more. Na Menehune have a real shot to reach the state semifinals now.
By Paul Honda