Team Aloha captured the championship of the 17th annual Arizona Elite Spring Classic on Sunday in Phoenix, Ariz.
Chanelle Molina, the Star-Advertiser all-state player of the year from Konawaena, scored 15 points and Farrington junior Jeneva Toilolo had 13 to lead Team Aloha over Oregon Elite White 44-39 in the tournament final.
“When we left (for Arizona), I wasn’t sure we were on this championship route. But all the players stepped up for every single game. It was a nice surprise because we didn’t have great practices or scrimmages. We just wanted to progress with each game,” coach Fran Villarmia-Kahawai said.
The girls basketball squad, comprised of underclassmen selected by Villarmia-Kahawai and her staff, went 6-0 in the 47-team bracket. Team Aloha defeated Arizona Elite Gray 57-30, Utah Flash 60-21 and Oregon Elite Orange 51-46 in overtime.
“Our mentality wasn’t where I wanted it to be at,” Villarmia-Kahawai said of the OT game. “We had a 7:30 walk-through the next morning and we played at 8 a.m., and we played a near-perfect game.”
That near-perfect game was a 55-29 victory over EBX2 (Calif.) 55-29, followed by a win over NW Blazers Orange (Wash.) 45-34 to reach the title game. Their title-game opponent had a bye and the advantage of rest on Team Aloha.
“We were down by two at halftime, so we made a couple of adjustments,” Villarmia-Kahawai said.
The game was tied with about 1:30 to go. Molina drove for an and-1 three-point play to make the difference.
“At the end of the game, they were so tired, they didn’t really celebrate,” she said of the six-game, three-day marathon feat.
“With a smaller team, we didn’t have a dropoff,” she said of the eight-player roster.
The team included Lindsay Bates (Lahainaluna), Shantel Appleby (Mililani), Ihi Victor (Konawaena), Tyra Moe (Punahou), Alexis Pana (Hilo) and Patria Vaimoana (Kailua). The coaching staff included team founder Mufi Hannemann, Keisha Kanekoa and Rodney Cavaco.
The title is the first for Team Aloha since 2006, when the squad won the Nike Storm and Swish Tournament in Santa Barbara (Calif.).