Konawaena is team to beat

By Paul Honda
phonda@starbulletin.com

From ‘Iolani to Moanalua to Farrington, girls basketball tournaments gave fans lots of action on Friday.

One thing coaches probably will agree on: Konawaena is still the team to beat. The Wildcats improved to 5-1 in nonconference play (5-0 against Hawaii teams) with a 54-42 win over Mid-Pacific at the ‘Iolani Classic.

Konawaena got outstanding team passing, using backdoor cuts, and six 3-point bombs to dismantle the Owls. The ‘Cats led 11-0 and smothered MPI center Keaton McFadden on the low post. Thea Hanato-Smith nailed three treys and led Konawaena with 15 points. Dawnyelle Awa added 11 points and Lia Galdeira, the returning Star-Bulletin player of the year, added 10.

Jordan Kealoha led MPI with 10 points and Ashley Yamachika provided a few sparks with seven points. The Owls got a second-half surge and found ways to get McFadden more touches, but she wound up with six points against a stubborn Konawaena man-to-man defense led by center Anuhea Wall, who had nine points of her own.

“We work so hard on defense and that opens up our offense,” Wall said.

Hanato-Smith, a sophomore, was deadly and smooth from long-range, looking very much like her older sister, Kara.

“We’ve been playing together so long,” Hanato-Smith said, referring to the program’s connection to the age-group basketball club, Kona Stingrays. Eight of the team’s nine players started with the Stingrays.

With early wins over ‘Iolani, Molokai, Lahainaluna and Kamehameha-Hawaii, the Wildcats have shown no decline since losing Kara Hanato-Smith and Kim Brown to graduation.

“They’re on another level,” Punahou coach Mike Taylor said.

Lahainaluna coach Todd Rickard agreed.

“Kona plays with plenty of poise. They know how to win and they’re not afraid,” said Rickard, who took his Lady Lunas to Konawaena’s Winter Classic last week.

Defending state champion Konawaena will face ‘Iolani, a 51-40 winner over Kahuku, in the fifth-place game today at the Classic.

Lahela Usui hustled for 16 points (8-for-11 at the line) while Lori Yamashita added 12 and Saphyre Rezentes had 10 in ‘Iolani’s guard-heavy attack. Starting guard Kylie Maeda left the game moments after the tip-off with an injury to her left knee and did not return.

Kahuku, using its run-and-gun style at the start, got 16 points from Hi‘ilei Cummings. The Lady Raiders dropped man-to-man defense in favor of a 2-3 zone in the second half, changing the tempo drastically.

At the First Hawaiian Bank Na Menehune Peek Tournament, Pearl City knocked out Molokai 34-28. The Chargers got solid shooting from Alana Kaili, Jordan Ahakuelo and Glacen Florita to open a 10-point third-quarter lead en route to victory.

Molokai center Kalei Adolpho was double- and triple-teamed on the low post all game long, but her teammates struggled on mid-range shots.

“We knew we had to stop 3 (Danna-Lynn Hooper) and 32 (Adolpho). Keep 3 in front and double up on 32,” Pearl City coach Mike Morton said. “We banged the heck out of (Adolpho).”

Pearl City is now 7-1 — which could attract more attention than usual.

“We’re definitely more talented this year. Since freshman year, they’ve been working hard,” Morton said of his players.

Molokai, the defending Division II state champion, is 4-4. The Farmers will be on the road again next week at Lahainaluna’s tournament.

The Chargers will play Waiakea or host Moanalua in tonight’s final. Waiakea had leads of 11-0, 20-4 and 29-10 against Moanalua in the semifinal round. The game was 36-22 entering the final quarter.

At Farrington’s Maroon and White Classic, Lahainaluna won for the second time in two days. The Lady Lunas overwhelmed host Farrington 48-39 behind the one-two, inside-outside combo of Milika Taufa and Maika Viela.

Lahainaluna won its tourney opener on Thursday against Maryknoll and is 7-1, with a lone loss to Konawaena.

Punahou is also two-for-two in the Maroon and White after a 71-34 win over Kaiser. Lahainaluna and Punahou will meet in a 7:30 game tonight.

Rickard hopes his team has enough energy left for the battle.

“Punahou hasn’t shot well, but their program is about intense fullcourt pressure,” he said.
Lahainaluna 48, Farrington 39
Viela’s 3-pointer early in the second quarter gave the Lady Lunas a 17-15 lead and they never trailed again. Lahainaluna sank four 3-pointers in the quarter to open a 28-19 lead at the break.

The Lunas used a mix of man-to-man and three-quarter fullcourt pressure to stifle Farrington, which played without guard Brydgette Tatupu-Leopoldo (knee).

The Lady Governors pulled within 33-28 late in the third quarter on Aisha Gaea’s follow shot, but Akanesi Malamala hustled for a putback at the buzzer. Viela used a screen from Taufa to rain in another 3-pointer, and Taufa hit two foul shots to give the Lunas a 40-28 lead with 5:51 remaining.

Taufa committed two first-quarter fouls, but stayed in the game and finished with 16 points (6-for-13) and 10 rebounds. Viela had a game-high 20 points (6-for-16), four assists and four steals.

Kirsten Liana and Sofia Folaumahina had 12 points each for Farrington (0-3).

“We were a little rusty at the beginning (of preseason), but the more we play, the better we get,” said Viela, a junior guard.

The Lunas have not shown ill effects of losing six players to graduation.

“Our team has bonded a lot,” Taufa said. “We lost the spark of our team, the six seniors, but we’ve bonded.”

Both players are looking forward to the battle with Punahou.

“Their defense, they always play man and pressure ‘D’, ” Viela said.

“Even when they’re down, they come back up,” Taufa added.

Net notes: Both teams shot 35 percent (Lahainaluna was 17-for-48, Farrington 15-for-42) from the field. … Lunas shot 5-for-12 from the arc; Govs were 0-for-8. … Lunas were 9-for-9 from the foul line; Farrington was 9-for-17. … Govs outrebounded the Lunas 31-22 and had a 6-1 edge in blocked shots. … Lunas had 11 assists and 13 turnovers; Govs had nine dimes and 17 turnovers. … Lunas had nine steals to Farrington’s seven. … Tatupu-Leopoldo expects to play next week. She has tendonitis of the right knee. … The three girls tournaments wind down today. … The Pete Smith Classic and McKinley’s Black and Gold Invitational, both boys tournaments, have a 2 p.m. finals.



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