HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS' BASKETBALL
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Elizabeth Abe of Punahou intercepted Kaz Masutani's pass to Iolani teammate Hennasea-Sue Tokumura at midcourt.
Punahou forces playoff in ILH
The Buffanblu ruin Iolani's senior night, but the two teams meet again tomorrow
The ti leaves were in full force, but they didn't have enough magic to bring Iolani an Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship in girls basketball.
At least not yet.
With a chance to clinch their league championship in front of their home crowd that packed Iolani's lower gym for senior night, the Raiders couldn't stop the Punahou offense down the stretch as the Buffanblu won 50-43.
With the win, the Buffanblu forced a playoff game to determine the ILH champion. The teams will play each other tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. at Saint Louis' McCabe Gym.
"We still feel very fortunate that we had the opportunity to (force a playoff)," Punahou coach Mike Taylor said. "Collectively we did a great job."
Sophomore Shawna-Lei Kuehu led the Buffanblu attack, finishing with a game-high 20 points. Her twin sister, Shaena-Lyn, added 10 points in the win.
After being down by 10 points at halftime, the Raiders rallied in the second half, tying the game at 33 on a 3-pointer by Alana Wall with a minute to go in the third quarter.
"We knew Iolani was going to come out fired up. I guess we weren't ready for it because of the gym's atmosphere," Shawna-Lei Kuehu said. "Once we started to settle down, we got everything back."
After the teams traded the lead several times in the fourth quarter, Kuehu, who made just three of her nine shots in the second quarter, shook off her early struggles and took over the game. In the final period, Kuehu
scored 10 points.
With her team down by a point with under 3 minutes to go, Kuehu stole the ball at midcourt and attacked the basket for an easy layup to put the Buffanblu up for good at 41-40.
From there, she went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line to seal the Punahou win. Kuehu said since missing a crucial free throw against Iolani in their last meeting, she has been focusing more on her foul shots during practice.
"I was shooting free throws in practice all the time, cause I was like 'I am not going to miss any other free throws,' " Kuehu said.
Punahou controlled the game from the get-go, nailing a couple of short jumpers to take the lead. A 3-pointer by Ciana Aiwohi gave the Buffanblu a 7-0 lead less than 3 minutes into the game.
With the Raiders defense keying on the inside, the Buffanblu got open looks at the basket early on, shooting 6-for-10 from the floor in the first quarter.
"All we wanted to do was have the kids take advantage of what the defense was giving them and to be confident," Taylor said. "We want five girls out there who are playmakers and who aren't afraid to step up and make big shots."
"We know the other team's going to double-down on me. But when you know that when someone's being double-downed, one person is going to have to be open," Kuehu said.
The Buffanblu guards took advantage of the double team, as Punahou drained three 3-pointers in the first half.
Even with a 10-point lead going into the second half, the Buffanblu anticipated an amped-up Raider squad would show up in the third quarter.
"We knew they were going to come back," Taylor said. "We just had to weather the storm."
In the third, Keilyn Fujioka led the Raider charge, scoring eight of her team-high 16 points in the quarter. Meanwhile, Jamie Smith finished with 10 points, five of which came in the third.
"We just had to stick with what we do best and not get rattled," said Taylor.
At Iolani Gym
PUNAHOU--Ciana Aiwohi 6, Elizabeth Abe 3, Melanie Feldman 4, Shawna-Lei Kuehu 20, Mahina Macfarlane 0, Shaena-Lyn Kuehu 10, Janelle Nomura 2, Sophie Merrifield 5, Devon Yamauchi 0.
IOLANI--Kaz Masutani 0, Hennasea-Sue Tokumura 8, Alana Matayoshi 2, Chanel Hirata 0, Marci Kang 0, Alana Wall 7, Jamie Smith 10, Meilin Akamu 0, Sarah Turgeon 0, Keilyn Fujioka 16, Megan Burton 0.
3-point goals -- Punahou 3 (Aiwohi 2, Abe), Iolani 3 (Wall 2, Tokumura).
Division II varsity girls
Punahou 51, Iolani 28
High scorers--Pun:Taila Autele 13.Iol: Chelsey Keola 11.
Junior varsity division I girls
Kamehameha 64, Punahou 43