HHSAA GIRLS' BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Shawna-Lei Kuehu of Punahou scored a state championship-game record 37 points last night against Roosevelt.
Kuehu shoots way to record
Shawna-Lei Kuehu shot her way into the record book last night. And with her high school career only halfway over, into the company of the greatest players in Hawaii girls basketball history.
Kuehu scored 37 points to break the HHSAA girls' basketball championship single-game record, as Punahou pounded Roosevelt 61-39 to win its second consecutive state championship last night at the Stan Sheriff Center.
"She's up there with Brandy Richardson and Nani Cockett," Roosevelt coach Bobby Keanini said of Kuehu, who was voted the tournament's most outstanding player by the media. "She's a very special player."
It was clear early on that this one wouldn't go to overtime; Punahou needed two extra sessions to beat Konawaena last year for the state title.
Last night the Buffanblu merely used a crushing pressure defense and Kuehu's power and finesse to blitz past the Rough Riders.
Kuehu made 16 of 23 shots from the field and five of seven free throws. She also had seven rebounds.
Kuehu was simply dominant from early on, with 15 first-quarter points on 7-for-8 shooting from the floor. She was deadly from the 12-to-15 foot range, opening up other opportunities for her teammates, including twin sister Shaena-Lyn Kuehu, who finished with 10 points.
"They gave (Shawna-Lei) the jumper and she hit it," Punahou coach Mike Taylor said. "She can make 3-pointers, too. But when you're hitting from inside, why go outside?"
Said Kuehu: "I thought they were going to stop it, but they gave it to me so I kept taking the shot."
Keanini said the Rough Riders had to give up something, so they started out in a zone defense to challenge Punahou's outside shooting.
"We wanted to keep (Kuehu) off the blocks," Keanini said. "But she hit the shots. Then we tried to pressure the perimeter to cut off the passes to her."
But the Buffanblu were patient and only passed to Kuehu when she was open. It was more than enough.
By halftime, she had hit 11 of 15 shots from the floor and was 3-for-5 from the line for 25 points, to help the Buffanblu to a 37-14 lead at the break.