La Pietra punches its ticket
Hawaii Baptist found its path to the basket -- as well as the HHSAA Division II girls state tournament -- blocked by Sarah Peoples and her La Pietra teammates in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division II tournament title game last night.
Peoples, a 6-foot-2 junior center, blocked 10 Lady Eagle shots and fell one point shy of a triple-double in anchoring the defense of the Lady Panthers' 47-28 landslide victory at McCabe Gym.
For the nine seniors on the 11-player La Pietra roster, it was do-or-die time to claim the ILH's final of four berths to the state tournament. Sacred Hearts, St. Francis and St. Anthony's were granted automatic berths for their top-three regular-season marks.
"To get this win was a huge milestone; it was one of our preseason goals," La Pietra coach Anthony Czaja said. "Just giving them another chance to play as seniors was huge for us."
Peoples and seniors Chelsea Kiyabu, Megan Giles and Ashanti Shih scored nine points each to lead the Lady Panthers (12-5).
Hawaii Baptist (8-8) got a banked 3-pointer from Adrienne Kishimoto to take a 5-2 lead on its third possession, but the Lady Panthers rattled off a 19-0 run over the first and second quarters and enjoyed a lead of at least 12 the rest of the game.
Peoples blocked the Lady Eagles' first shot of the game, and her last rejection came shortly before she left for good midway through the fourth.
"When we're as small as we are, we try to transition. In order to transition, obviously, you've gotta get stops," said Hawaii Baptist coach Reid Takatsuka.
His team won the turnover battle 18-11, but was outrebounded 47-34.
Getting stops when they needed to was no problem for the Lady Panthers, who had 14 blocks as a team.
Takatsuka's tallest player is 5-foot-8. By sending several shots out of bounds and altering countless others, Peoples helped limit the Eagles to just one basket in the paint.
"They did a great job of utilizing their size and we just didn't have the answers for it tonight," Takatsuka said.
Kishimoto led Hawaii Baptist with nine points.
Peoples and the 5-foot-11 Giles fed off each other in the low post. When either of the "Yugoslavia" and "Iceland" tandem -- as Peoples and Giles are known by their teammates -- would go up for a shot inside, the shorter Eagles were forced to double and triple up on one side of the paint, allowing the other Lady Panther to grab rebounds for putbacks on the weak side. The "Europeans" combined for 21 boards.
"We work just really well together. We connect, in a weird way," Peoples said. "When she's driving I'll go behind people because they all go toward her."
Her coach was amazed by Peoples' performance, considering she had tweaked her left ankle during warm-ups.
"What's great about Sarah is she's coming off a sprained (right) ankle about a week and a half ago," Czaja said. "So it was very iffy if she was going to be able to go for us today. We just laced up her ankle brace really tight and she gutted it out. She performed the way she did on two bad legs. Huge for us, she really controlled the middle."
At McCabe Gym
|Hawaii Baptist (8-8)
|La Pietra (12-5)
HAWAII BAPTIST--Adrienne Kishimoto 9, Sharon Kim 0, Ashley Salado 4, Keline Yoshimura 5, Carissa Onuma 5, Stefanie Sueda 0, Leah Shizuru 3, Kaitlyn Miyashiro 1, Jennifer Young 0, Jaime Iha 1.
LA PIETRA--Christen Hirai 0, Leah Kaina 6, Chelsea Kiyabu 9, Sarah Peoples 9, Megan Giles 9, Charity Caracol 0, Tihon Nguyen 0, Ashanti Shih 9, Jasmine Kimura 5, Alexandra Lake 0.
3-point goals--Hawaii Baptist 3 (Kishimoto 2, Yoshimura), La Pietra 2 (Kiyabu 2).