HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Martin plays big as Kalani takes title
With their other offensive options shut off, the Kalani Falcons found another one in the smallest player on the floor.
Junior guard Chloe Martin played big in the pivotal third quarter, swishing three treys in a span of 1 minute, 26 seconds as Kalani outlasted Aiea 49-41 to capture the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Division championship last night.
"That was big for us. When she's hot, she's one of the best shooters we have," Kalani coach Darold Imanaka said.
Aiea simply gambled and played the odds with Martin.
"We overcompensated on the top. If we're gonna get killed, we'd rather not get killed by Megan (Kamehiro) or Mana (Camara)," Aiea coach Mike Yen said. "Kalani is very good, very disciplined. They've played together for a long time, played a lot of close games."
The Lady Falcons (12-1) made it two OIA crowns in a row, and it was sweeter the second time.
"This is the best. Everyone came at us hard, and there was a lot of pressure on us," Imanaka said, crediting the mental strength of guards Kamehiro and Kacie Gushiken.
"Those two are playing through injuries. These girls are very tough," he added.
Gushiken, a slashing junior guard, added 10 points and Kamehiro finished with nine.
"He wants us to push. He always stresses that we never give up," Gushiken said.
Freshman Natasha Helsham paced a very young Aiea squad (9-4) with 14 points, but struggled at times against Kalani's relentless man defense. Michelle Shiroma added 10 points, and Capri Holiona tallied a game-high 11 rebounds for Na Alii, who have an all-underclassmen starting lineup.
Helsham was stymied for much of the game, committing seven of her team's 21 turnovers. However, she came up with nine points in the final quarter. Kalani defenders Kamehiro and Martin took turns swarming on her.
"Megan came up big defensively," Imanaka said.
Martin, a reserve guard, came off the bench to hit a trey in the opening quarter, but her cool long-range stroke was unrivaled in the second half.
Aiea, which lost to Kalani by just three points during the regular season, pulled within 23-20 after guard Shiroma sank three foul shots early in the third quarter.
Aiea's matchup zone limited Kalani to 2-for-10 accuracy from the arc in the first half, but Martin stepped up. She drilled a trey from the left corner to open the lead to 26-20. Aiea called a timeout to discuss defensive matters, but Martin came back a minute later with an open trey from the top that gave the Lady Falcons a nine-point lead.
She swished her third trey of the quarter moments later to give Kalani a 32-22 lead with 4:36 left. Kalani stretched the lead to 13 despite being outrebounded by Aiea 29-17.
In the fourth quarter, Na Alii went more than 6 minutes without a field goal, but used a late 9-3 run to get close. Helsham scored nine fourth-quarter points, and Shiroma's steal led to a Helsham layup to bring Aiea within 43-39 with 1:35 left.
Free throws by Gushiken, Kamehiro and Martin put the game out of reach.
"Aiea is good, physical and they can shoot. We knew that we had to push harder," Gushiken said.
Helsham is looking forward to the Division II state tourney, where Aiea will have the OIA's second seed.
"We have potential and we have teamwork," she said. "Nobody thought we'd make it this far, not even our classmates. They used to underestimate us, but now they're cheering for us. That feels good."
At McKinley H.S. gym
AIEA--Tierra Miguel 0, Jennifer Yuen 4, Tasha Johnson 2, Tasha Helsham 14, Jessica Tan 0, Tasha Fong 0, Annie Orial 0, Michelle Shiroma 10, Emily Tausaga 0, Sara Watanabe 0, Nohelani Fonoti 4, Capri Holiona 7, Tierra Tauanuu 0.
KALANI--Chloe Martin 14, Megan Kamehiro 9, Brandi Yamauchi 0, Kerri Chikamori 0, Yasmina Taketa 0, Chelsey Kimura 5, Violet Alama 3, Nicole Isemoto 0, Kacie Gushiken 10, Nicole Ameperosa 0, Alisha Bonifacio 0, Chaude Bonifacio 3, Mana Camara 5, Kimberly Balsai 0, Erin Arakaki 0.
3-point goals -- Aiea 2 (Helsham, Shiroma), Kalani 6(Martin 4, Kamehiro, Kimura).