Konawaena’s latest state championship in girls basketball may have been its most difficult title-game win, which is saying a lot since the Wildcats now own eight crowns.
In a 53-48 thriller against Maryknoll, champion of the ILH, the Wildcats got stellar performances from returning All-State players Celena Jane Molina, Cherilyn Molina — the all-tournament most outstanding player — and Mikayla Tablit. All three were selected to the all-state tournament team. They simply couldn’t do it all on their own, though, not against an immensely talented and deep Maryknoll squad.
In a game that hinged on young reserves for each team, center Sisilia Kaufusi gave Maryknoll a major lift with five points in the second quarter. That was valuable after starting center Isabella Cravens sat with foul trouble in the second quarter. With the game seemingly in the balance on every possession of the second half, Wildcat sophomore Tanniya Uchida did a little more than knock down those two massive trifectas.
With Maryknoll picking its spots with a potentially lethal fullcourt press, Uchida was in the backcourt when she received a skip pass, and within one dribble, she fired a left-handed pass to midcourt, where Cherilyn Molina then pushed to the rim and fed Kaupu for a layup. That gave Konawaena a 44-42 lead with 4:08 left.
Prior to that, the Spartans left her alone on both of her 3-point shots.
“We want that,” Maryknoll coach Chico Furtado said, noting that Uchida should have been cold coming off the bench. “Give her credit for making those shots.”
Uchida, generously listed at 5-2, shocked a lot of watchers.
“If it’s there, I’ll take it,” she said of her big shots.