Thursday, May 19, 2005


Iolani's Jamie Smith looked for room to get a shot off against Kahuku's Christina Soliai, left, and Aisha Ale yesterday.

Champ Wildcats
defeat Mustangs

Even with a pair of key players
in foul trouble, Konawaena holds
off Kalaheo

Even with their star scorers riddled with fouls, the Konawaena Wildcats showed exactly why their state championship defense is valid.

Captain Hina Kimitete and fellow senior Haunani Liftee sparked a key 10-2 run midway through the fourth quarter as the Wildcats outlasted Kalaheo 46-34 last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Konawaena (22-1) advanced to the Hawaiian Airlines Girls Basketball State Championships semifinals today at 6 p.m. against Kahuku.

It wasn't easy, however, against Kalaheo (21-6).

Taylor Smith hit a baseline jumper to bring the Lady Mustangs within 32-27, and with Konawaena spreading the floor, Kalaheo went to a halfcourt trap with 7 minutes left.

But Konawaena picked up momentum with a pull-up 3-pointer by Kimitete for a 36-29 lead with 5:06 left.

"I needed to prove something to myself 'cause I wasn't hitting shots," she said. "It was intimidating with Taylor coming at me, but the top is my favorite spot."

Turnovers hurt Kalaheo, which committed four in a 2-minute stretch. After Liftee scored on two more breakaway layups, the 'Cats led 42-29 with 2:41 left. Kalaheo got no closer than 10 the rest of the way.

Liftee finished with 14 points, and Kimitete directed the Wildcats offense against Kalaheo's aggressive mix of halfcourt and fullcourt zone traps.

"Auntie Bobbie (coach Awa) likes me in charge of the ball. We take our time," Kimitete said.

With help from Mana Hopkins and Leesa Deniz underneath, Konawaena survived despite foul trouble for Jessica Hanato and Jazzmin Awa-Williams.

"Mana did an excellent job. Since the beginning of the season, she's grown so much. She's peaking as we're peaking," Awa said.

Hanato finished with nine points and six steals, and Awa-Williams had seven points and eight boards. Awa-Williams also had four assists and was vital in Konawaena's breakdown of Kalaheo's halfcourt press, delivering perfect no-look bounce passes for layups.

Smith finished with 16 points (5-for-9 from the field) with seven rebounds, but also had eight turnovers. Fourteen of her points came in the first half. Shanadee Canon worked extremely hard for her 11 points, shooting 4-for-12 from the floor. Kalaheo amassed 28 turnovers and was 1-for-9 from beyond the arc.

Konawaena opened the game with its usual tight man-to-man defense and forced Kalaheo into 10 first-quarter turnovers. The Wildcats led 9-8, but Hanato and Awa-Williams already had two personal fouls each.

Moments after draining a trey from the left corner, Hanato picked up her third foul with 5 minutes to go in the second quarter. With the senior on the bench, Konawaena was ripe for the picking, but Kalaheo couldn't take advantage.

The lead changed hands five times in the last 2:29 of the first half, with Kalaheo ahead 20-19 on Smith's layup at the buzzer.

Hanato, who had seven points to lead Kona in the first half, collected her fourth foul and left again with 4:57 to go in the third quarter. Instead of slipping, the Wildcats locked down the paint, thanks to Mana Hopkins and Leesa Deniz.

That fueled a 9-1 run to close out the third. Liftee swished a 3-pointer from the right wing and turned a steal into a layup as Konawaena opened a 32-24 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Konawaena's experience and savvy came through in its first season since Player of the Year Nancy Hoist graduated.

"There are people who doubt us because Nancy's gone," Kimitete noted. "We needed to step up our game."

Awa-Williams agreed.

"Last year was different. We just wanted to get over the first-game hurdle. This year, everybody expects us to get to the final," the sophomore forward said.

HHSAA Girls Basketball

At Stan Sheriff Center
Division I
Seeds: 1. Punahou. 2. Konawaena. 3. Kahuku. 4. Lahainaluna.

5: Kaiser 55, Kauai 42
6: Farrington 60, Baldwin 59, OT
7: Honokaa 53, Lahainaluna 43
8: Punahou 59, Roosevelt 41
9: Konawaena 46, Kalaheo 34
10: Kahuku 47, Iolani 32

11: Roosevelt vs. Lahainaluna, 11 a.m.
12: Kalaheo vs. Iolani, 12:45 p.m.
13: Konawaena vs. Kahuku, 6 p.m.
14: Punahou vs. Honokaa, 8 p.m.

Division II
Game 1: Saint Francis vs. Seabury Hall, 2:30 p.m.
2: Kamehameha-Hawaii vs. Kalani, 4:15 p.m.

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