Q&A: Sisters Lily Wahinekapu and Jovi Lefotu of No. 1 ‘Iolani

'Iolani guard/forward Jovi Lefotu (21), and her sister, guard Lily Wahinekapu(23), are a big reason the Raiders are No. 1 again after winning the state championship last season. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

Latoya Wily doesn’t know much about ‘Iolani’s Lily Wahinekapu and Jovi Lefotu.

She does remember being a kid and seeing their auntie, Sharon Wahinekapu, run the point for OIA powerhouse — at the time — Kalaheo.

“My parents would always take my sister Artevia and I to watch players like Sharon and Brandy (Richardson) of Kalaheo,” Wily recalled. “Just like her, Lily and Jovi are fun to watch.”

The sisters are as unassuming and humble as state champions could be. The Raiders are already 9-0 with a squad that has just one senior, ranked No. 1 and unanimously so according to coaches and media on the voting panel.


Wahinekapu, a junior, has scholarship offers on the table, including one from Washington State. Lefotu, a sophomore, is heading in a similar path. She scored 18 points on Saturday in ‘Iolani’s come-from-behind 41-32 win over No. 6 Punahou.

“I do know that they stand out to me,” Wily said, “because they are very active on the court on offense and defense. I know this is going to sound contradicting, but they are relentless yet very humble on the court. They never stop.”

The common thread among coaches in their summaries, aside from the positive attitudes of the sisters, is intelligence.

“Their ability to read their opponents on offense and defense. Besides the fact that they can score and play defense, when you watch them play, you can see that they are very selfless,” Wily noted. “They know how to create and look for their teammates if their own shot isn’t there.”

Konawaena coach Bobbie Awa agreed.

“Their basketball strength is their IQ. Lots of players play the game. They master skills they are taught, but do not always understand the game,” Awa said. “I believe Lily and Jovi understand the game of basketball, although the true strength that both Lily and Jovi have is that they are respectful, kind-hearted, compassionate, eager to learn, competitive and truly love playing the game of basketball.”

‘Iolani coach Dean Young is enjoying the process of seeing the young Raiders grow together.

“They both are such great teammates because they are so unselfish. They don’t hesitate to make the extra pass and get their teammates involved and understand that they need the whole team in order to be successful in the long run. They are also great leaders because they work hard and compete with intensity every day and never take days off,” Young said. “I think people think of Lily as an elite offensive player but her defense is often overlooked. She’s really tough on ball.  Jovi has been more of a post player growing up because of her size but she’s put in the work on her outside shot and now it’s as deadly as her work in the paint.”

Here is our extended Q&A with them in addition to the feature story that ran in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Lily Wahinekapu, Jovi Lefotu
Sisters, ‘Iolani basketball (and volleyball)

Q&A / Favorites

Food (at home)
Lily: My grandma (Faasausau Lefotu)’s spaghetti. I can’t tell you her secret ingredient.”
Jovi: “Can’t say.”
Lily: “She doesn’t even tell us.”
Jovi: “She makes it before game days.”
Lily: “We’re lucky. We can’t make it as good as her.”
Jovi: “She doesn’t have the patience to teach us.”

Food (eating out)
Jovi: “Fettuccine Alfredo pasta.”
Lily: “Mine is lasagna. Anywhere that serves lasagna.”
Jovi: “Spaghetti Factory.”
Lily: “Or Assagio’s.”

Lily: “We like to go to the beach and we play volleyball.”
Jovi: “Hang out with our family. We like to sing with our grandma. She’s the best.”
Lily: “She’s in the church choir.”
Jovi: “Sometimes we make up our own songs.”
Lily: “She sings in Samoan. We don’t understand Samoan.”
Jovi: “She was at the game today. She was screaming.”
Lily: “She always wears a muumuu. A brown muumuu.”
Jovi: “We have our own Samoan song that we sing with her. It’s a catchy song.”

Lily: “My favorite movie is ‘Whale Rider.’ “
Jovi: “Mine’s is ‘Love and Basketball.’ “
Lily: “I used to watch it after school in elementary. Probably 50, 60 times. It’s just like her connection with her grandparents, and that’s the same thing that I have with my grandparents. I really like that interaction.”
Jovi: “Grandpa (John Lefotu).”
Lily: “Everybody’s old school. Our grandparents are from Samoa, so they’re kind of like the old-fashioned way, the way you do certain things.”
Jovi: “I like the actress (in Love and Basketball). She just reminds me of…”
Lily: “She can do everything. She goes to school. She plays basketball. She has a relationship.”
Jovi: “(The hardest part) is managing all of it. Having a social life.”

TV show
Lily: “ ‘Friends’.”
Jovi: “ ’The Vampire Diaries’.”
Lily: “We like the same things.”
Jovi: “It’s because don’t watch ‘Friends.’ She’s watching it right now.”
Lily: “(The contract expiration with Netflix) means I have until January 1. I’m only on season three. There’s 10 (seasons). We’ll be in Japan so it’s going to be hard. My favorite character is Joey or Chandler.”
Jovi: “I don’t watch that many TV shows. I haven’t finished watching Vampire Diaries.”

Video game
Lily: “We don’t play video games.”
Jovi: “Nope.”

Music artist
Lily: “Kane Brown. It’s like pop and country. I like ‘Heaven.’ “ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRX0wDNK6S4
Jovi: “Chris Brown. There’s a lot of good songs. I guess my favorite is ‘Heat’.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_vMte-NHkY

Jovi: “There’s a lot.”
Lily: “Our first-grade teacher, Mrs. Hall. Hickam Elementary. She made us feel comfortable.
Jovi: “She’s so nice.”
Lily: “She gave us candy instead of yelling at us.”

Lily: “I don’t want to tell.”
Jovi: “I prefer not to say.”
Lily: “(It’s above 3.5) sometimes. I’m taking my SAT (in the summer).”

Jovi: “It’s between chemistry and history right now. I can actually understand what’s going on. Writing formulas and stuff like that.”
Lily: “English. I have Mrs. Faulk in Women in Literature. Talking about women’s rights and equality, feminism.”

Place to relax
Lily: “Kaneohe pier. Just get away with our family.”

Jovi: “No regrets.”
Lily: “YOLO. You only live once. Don’t be scared. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. You can learn from it. Try new things, you know? It could be just going out with new friends, hanging out instead of just staying inside. Usually, I’m an outgoing person. I’ll want to go out and do new stuff.”

What mom (Dawn) says that you can’t forget?
Lily: “She says do what makes you happy. If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it. We were choosing between basketball and soccer. This was in sixth grade, before we entered middle school.”
Jovi: “We play volleyball for school, too.”
Lily: “There’s different things that volleyball uses, things that help with basketball like jumping and stuff.”

What dad (Maea) says that you can’t forget?
Jovi: “Think of the positives in any situation.”
Lily: “He also says, ‘We’re your biggest critics, but your No. 1 fans.’ It’s true.”

What your coaches say?
Jovi: “Trust the process. There’s going to be pain in the process, but that’s going to get you to where you want to be. Our intermediate school coach, Ed Gelacio (of Holy Family Academy), said that.”
Lily: “It’s good to believe Coach Ed. It’s good energy over there, a basketball community. You can just play with anybody over there. It’s fun. Coach Ed plays, too, sometimes pickup games. They make it fun. You love the game more. You love the game because of that.”
Jovi: “He’s (strict) when it’s time to be, but most of the time, he’s chill.”

How many titles did you win in middle school?
Lily: “Three? We won when I was (in eighth grade). It was like a Catholic league. So we played against the Huntimers (Alexis and Alexsandra).”
Jovi: “They were St. Patrick.”
Lily: “We knew each other from Kalakaua clinic. Seventh grade, we won (the league title). Sixth grade, we lost. The Hunters left in seventh grade to ‘Iolani, but they made it tough.”
Jovi: “We had Kylie (Yung) and Taylor (Wu) on our team. All four of us.”

How does basketball affect your life year-round?
Jovi: “It teaches us how to manage our time (in season).”
Lily: “Sometimes we have two practices a day with PROformance. There would be a conditioning practice, then another one to build chemistry with our team. Run plays. Sometimes, it’s every day. Our dad, mom, uncle, auntie drive us to practice.”

Middle school and elementary school
Lily: “Hickam Elementary from kindergarten to fourth grade for me, then fifth grade to eighth grade, Holy Family.”
Jovi: “I started fourth grade at Holy Family.”

Youth sports
Jovi: “Soccer.”
Lily: “We started with soccer when we were seven or six. It was fun.”
Jovi: “I remember she played in the older league. We didn’t ‘play on the same team.”
Lily: “It was fun.”
Jovi: “There was a Hickam (basketball) league that we joined.”
Lily: “It was good because we were on the same thing. It was like a sisterly thing. We just passed to each other. You go down and I’ll pass to you.”
Jovi: “We went to Kalakaua (clinic).”
Lily: “We were six or seven. Our mom also played a big role in us playing basketball. She played in high school (Kailua). She taught us.”

Lily: “We traveled with (Hawaii) Storm to Arizona. I was in sixth grade with a 17-under team. That was a wake-up call. You learn what you need to do better.”
Jovi: “That was our first time traveling.”
Lily: “There’s more out there. You need to work harder. Whenever we go to the mainland, we learn a lot.”

What’s something you are good at that would surprise people?
Jovi: “I can sleep anywhere, especially in class.”
Lily: “She falls asleep everywhere.”
Jovi: “I can sleep for a very long time, and I’m a very heavy sleeper.”
Lily: “I go to sleep early and wake up early.”
Jovi: “She wakes up so early.”
Lily: “I play the piano, but I’m not an expert. I took classes in fifth grade and sixth grade. My parents said we should learn to play an instrument.”
Jovi: “What’s that song you played at your recital.”
Lily: “ ‘Jacob’s Theme.’ “
Jovi: “It’s from ‘Twilight’.”
Lily: “It’s 2 minutes, 30 seconds.”
Jovi: “She had her recital and she played that song. Didn’t you win? And she got a trophy.”
Lily: “I couldn’t read the notes super fast. I had to write it down. My piano teacher did not like that. But I like how you can bring your own flow to it.”
Jovi: “I just learned from her.”

Time machine
Jovi: “I would want to travel to see my grandparents in their primes, starting out as a family, visit them when they were our age. I want to go back to when mom and dad met. They both have different stories of how they met.
Lily: “They met at Kailua. High school sweethearts.”
Jovi: “Dad said mom was late to class and she asked him for a pencil. She says no. So I want to go back and see what actually happened. Maybe mom did come a little late to class.”
Lily: “Who knows? I would want to do the same thing. See my grandparents when they were young.”
Jovi: “I would want to see the future. We would be in the future, I would like to see that, 20 years from now.”

Bucket list
Jovi: “There’s a lot. I’d like to go to Samoa and see where my grandma and grandpa came from. My papa is from American Samoa and grandma is from Western Samoa.”
Lily: “My grandma has an accent. It’s a British kind of sound. My bucket list is to travel everywhere in Europe and Polynesia. We’re not stable enough. We don’t have enough money to do that yet. But we’re going to Japan.”
Jovi: “The food, the food, the food, the food.”
Lily: “I like sushi.”
Jovi: “I don’t even like fish, but I’m excited.”
Lily: “We’re going to Tokyo.”
Jovi: “We’re playing (shortened) games, three or four each day. Our whole family’s going.”

History and background of your name
Lily: “My parents got my name from a movie. I prefer not to say which one. The title will make you freak out. They both like the movie. What’s his name? Tom…”
Jovi: “Tom Cruise.”
Lily: “Tom Cruise is in it. I’m not sure if my mom was pregnant at the time. They (also considered) Ruby. Moana. Some other Hawaiian names I forget. I was, ‘Why?’ Lily is so common. I like my name now. I just grew into it.”
Jovi: “Mine is from the movie, ‘Elf’. Jovi is the girl..”
Lily: “She’s a fake elf.”
Jovi: “Yeah. She ends up with a real elf.”
Lily: “It’s a complicated story.”
Jovi: “She ends up, uh…
Lily: “With a real elf.”
Jovi: “A real elf. I like my name. I never met anyone else named Jovi. I never heard Bon Jovi.”

Lefotu and Wahinekapu
Lily: “My mom only has sisters and so they wanted someone to pass on the family name, so they gave it to me.”
Jovi: “They flipped a coin.”
Lily: “Yeah, they flipped a coin. My mom was heads and my dad was tails.”

Shout outs
Lily: “Shout to our families. Being so supportive of us. Thank you and we love you. And our team. We’re thankful for our team. We’ve been through a lot in preseason.”
Jovi: “Our teammates getting hurt. We’re also thankful for our coaches and all the staff.”
Lily: “A lot of people come out and support us.”
Jovi: “Mr. Shue and Mr. Bowman. That’s our Raider Nation.”
Lily: “Mr. Greenhill.”


  1. Aunty Kathy December 24, 2019 4:58 pm

    Just wanted to make a correction. Their grandma’s name is Fa’asa’osa’o Lefotu. Lol. Other than that spot on their Q & A.

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