Punahou's future scary to other teams
Now that the Punahou Buffanblu have demolished the competition and captured their second state championship in a row, there are questions.
With much of its core returning next season, even with the graduation of seniors like Sophie Merrifield, Punahou is in position to turn its current run into a dynasty.
The D-word is no surprise considering the ample abilities of Shawna-Lei Kuehu, who scored a state-tournament-record 37 points in the title win over Roosevelt, and twin sister Shaena-Lyn Kuehu.
Maryknoll's Bobby Samson isn't optimistic.
"Nobody has a lineup that can match up with that," the longtime coach said. "You can have all the theory in the world, but you cannot go to a gun fight with a knife."
Still, Punahou's march to dynastic levels was put on hold midway through the merciless Interscholastic League of Honolulu slate. After difficult losses to Iolani and Kamehameha, which used a 2-3 zone, Punahou seemed off course.
"We looked at this year, not as a transition year, but losing Christine (Takara) and Shanna-Lei (Dacanay), it's huge," coach Mike Taylor said. "All you can do is work and work, and hopefully, it'll start fitting together."
Fit, it did. So, is there any foe on the horizon who will be able to put a lid on Punahou's domination? It doesn't seem so.
Roosevelt loses valuable Tati Beasley, but returns a core of guards and swingman Iwalani Rodrigues, who averaged double figures in rebounds late in the year. The Rough Riders, however, do not appear to have a solution for Kuehu.
Honokaa will bring back a good nucleus led by guard Keisha Kanekoa, but will miss 5-foot-11 Wila Lavea in the middle.
Iolani, with twin towers Keilyn Fujioka and Megan Burton, fared best against Kuehu, who managed just 11 points in a midseason loss to the Raiders. However, Iolani's 6-footers graduate this year.
Perhaps the only way to deal with Kuehu, who will certainly be quicker and stronger as a junior, will be to completely collapse on her and hope Punahou's perimeter shooters clang miss after miss.
Finding more shooters will be key for Punahou next season, but dealing with Kuehu will make life tough for everyone else in the state.