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Friday, March 19, 2004



[ HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL ]


Kamehameha holds on to
lead to beat Mid-Pacific

The Warriors beat a young team
to improve to 2-0 in the ILH


It was, in the words of coach Clay Cockett, a good first half. A very good first half, indeed.

But in the aftermath of a 38-27 win over talented but young Mid-Pacific, Kamehameha's longtime girls basketball general was less than satisfied.

"We still play scared and out of control," Cockett said after his Warriors improved to 2-0 in Interscholastic League of Honolulu play.

Mounia Nihipali scored nine points to lead Kamehameha. Cockett played reserves for nearly half of the game after his starters zoomed to an early 11-2 advantage. In the opening quarter, Kamehameha's man defense stifled Mid-Pac, and the Warriors led 17-4 going into the second.

Nihipali, a 5-foot-9 senior, had seven points after just one quarter. Kamehameha, applying full-court man pressure, led 22-7 at intermission. Nihipali sat for much of the second and third quarters because of foul trouble. She picked up her fourth personal with 4:26 remaining in the third quarter.

The visiting Owls settled down somewhat and got within 30-19 by the end of the third. Led by Morgen Sullivan, MPI pulled within single digits to start the final quarter. Sullivan, a versatile 5-9 sophomore, scored underneath off a dish from Sherice Ajifu, and the Owls were within 30-21 with 6:49 left.

Cockett re-inserted his starters moments later, and the Warriors went on a 6-0 run. Mid-Pacific did not score again for four minutes and 43 seconds.

Sullivan, a right-handed shooter who has a quick left-handed shot on the low post, finished with 11 points. Jasmine Vieira added eight for MPI.

The ILH is no party for coaches, as there is not a single cupcake team. Cockett expects more from the Warriors. "We played a good first half, but we have some veterans who cannot make smart decisions," he said.

Mid-Pac, with several talented sophomores, is off to an 0-2 start. That doesn't reflect the Owls' potential. MPI beat defending Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Moanalua 46-45 just one week ago, in a preseason tournament.

"They are a young team, and they didn't give up playing hard," Cockett said.

Mid-Pac coach Darrin Lee was encouraged by what he saw.

"We showed we can handle the press, which is key because everybody presses man," he said, referring to a league-opening loss to Iolani on Tuesday. "Some turnovers in that game really hurt us, but our team handled it much better today."

MPI also used a 2-3 zone to slow the Warriors' momentum to some degree. "It forced them to do things they're not used to. They have India (Soo) and (Tatriana) Lorenzo, and they're very quick. If you play man, you're encouraging them to play faster."

The Owls began to find their rhythm after halftime. "We weren't running our plays in the first half. Against Iolani, we didn't run one play all game," Lee said. "In the second half tonight, we had better communication, and better team execution."

Lee is anxious to bring another sophomore, Chrisi Nihipali, back to the court. Nihipali, the younger sister of Kamehameha's Mounia Nihipali, is nursing an ankle injury. "I don't want us to be on a two-year plan. I'd certainly like to be one of the three teams that make the state tournament," he said.

The last time MPI qualified was four years ago, when Jade Savusa and Ashley Watamura led the Owls to the third-place tournament title. They reached the semifinals of the state tourney.

"I'll tell you right now, Morgen will be the best center we ever had at Mid-Pac in the 17 years of the program," Lee promised.

Sullivan takes it in stride. "We felt it was going to be a tough game. By the second round, we should have our plays down better, and be more relaxed," she said. "We have to step up to play."

At Kekuhaupio gym
Mid-Pacific (0-2) 4 3 12 8 -- 27
Kamehameha (2-0) 17 5 8 8 -- 38

MID-PACIFIC--Kim Sherman 0, Sherice Ajifu 2, Danielle Mafua 0, Jasmine Vieira 8, Kristina Lin 2, Kelli Kajiwara 4, Morgen Sullivan 11.
KAMEHAMEHA--Miki Nakamura 4, India Soo 9, Lori Nakamura 0, Analee Viena-Lota 0, Kaui Todd 1, Noelani Hoopii 2, Jordan Tangonan 0, Tatriana Lorenzo 10, Danna Friedemann 2, Lilia Lee 0, Mounia Nihipali 9, Nicole Pharr 0, Leah Godinet 1.
3-point goals -- Mid-Pacific 0, Kamehameha 0.

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