HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou's bench erupted after taking the lead over Iolani late in the fourth quarter of yesterday's ILH championship.
Iolani gives Punahou ‘free’ ride to title
Shawna-Lei Kuehu believes the best things in life are free, and because of that, Punahou has won another girls basketball championship.
Kuehu sank 10 of her 12 free-throw attempts, including six of seven in the final 2:23, as Punahou stunned top-ranked Iolani 46-40 last night to win the Interscholastic League of Honolulu crown.
A raucous crowd at McCabe Gym saw Kuehu finish with 28 points, 15 rebounds and no turnovers. Third-ranked Punahou shot 15-for-21 from the line, while Iolani made only seven of its 20 attempts.
"The last time we lost to them, they hit all their free throws," Kuehu recalled. "We made it a goal at practice to make them. We miss free throws, we run. It's 'free' shots."
Punahou finished ILH play at 9-2, and coach Mike Taylor was emotionally spent -- fighting back tears -- by game's end.
"I'm so proud of this team. People doubted us 'cause we weren't scoring. It was a matter of time before we transferred what we do on the practice court to game time," he said. "The kids worked their tails off and had a determination to succeed, to keep fighting and never get down on themselves."
As a team, Punahou committed just eight turnovers against a stifling Iolani man defense, a far cry from a 20-point performance against the Raiders on April 15.
Hennasea-Sue Tokumura led Iolani (20-3 overall) with 21 points, including three treys. Jamie Smith added 13 points and eight rebounds.
"Punahou plays really good basketball. They came out strong, and we didn't focus. We didn't hit free throws," Tokumura said. "They deserved to win."
Tokumura shot 3-for-4 from the 3-point line, but just 6-for-11 from the foul line. Center Keilyn Fujioka, playing extended minutes due to the absence of backup Megan Burton, missed all five of her free-throw attempts.
The third-ranked Buffanblu rallied from a 35-28 deficit at the start of the fourth quarter.
"Coach said there's commitment, and there's being involved. If you're a team, you have commitment," Kuehu said.
The 5-foot-9 sophomore scored six points during an 8-0 run as the Buffanblu regained the lead, 36-35, with 2:23 left.
Horrid foul shooting by Iolani hurt. The Raiders missed their first six free-throw attempts of the fourth quarter.
Iolani took the lead back after Smith hit a turnaround jump hook in the lane with 1:55 remaining.
Kuehu, playing with a relentless energy, followed her own miss and scored to give Punahou a 38-37 lead with 1:39 to go. Iolani never led again.
After Iolani turned the ball over and missed a tough shot in traffic, Ciana Aiwohi and Kuehu sank four free throws in a row to cap a 14-2 Buffanblu run. Punahou led 42-37 with 41 seconds to play.
Tokumura sank one of her two tries from the line to bring Iolani within four, and after Sophie Merrifield missed the front end of her one-and-one, Iolani had the ball with 33 seconds remaining. However, turnovers and missed layups derailed the Raiders.
Kuehu and Merrifield hit foul shots to close out the scoring for Punahou, the defending state champion.
At McCabe gym
PUNAHOU--Ciana Aiwohi 4, Elizabeth Abe 5, Rebecca Lau 0, Melanie Feldman 0, Lauren Tompkison 0, Dara Tompkison 0 Cristen Aona 0, Shawna-Lei Kuehu 28, Mahina Macfarlane 0, Shaena-Lyn Kuehu 5, Janelle Nomura 0, Sophie Merrifield 4, Chelsea Deptula 0, Devon Yamauchi 0, Taj'a Wong 0.
IOLANI--Kaz Masutani 0, Hennasea-Sue Tokumura 21, Alana Matayoshi 0, Marci Kang 0, Alana Wall 2, Jamie Smith 13, Meilin Akamu 2, Sarah Turgeon 0, Keilyn Fujioka 2.
3-point goals -- Punahou 1 (Abe), Iolani 3 (Tokumura 3).
Division II varsity girls
Punahou 52, St. Francis 49
High scorers--Pun: Arielle Daniels 16, Taila Autele 12, Yuree Nam 10. StF: Siutiti Takai 12, Kanani Perry 12, Bryanna Batts 11.
Division I junior varsity girls
Kamehameha Blue 64, Punahou Gold 52