Tigers flatten Sabers with 3-point bombs
Firing away became contagious for McKinley's starting seniors.
Riding deadly 3-point shooting from Chelsie Sato and Kaitlyn Ikehara in the second half, the Tigers turned a deadlock into a comfortable 63-52 win over Campbell in the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Division championship last night at Student Council Gym.
The winners of the White East and White West divisions, McKinley (14-1) and Campbell (12-2) played a close first half. But the Lady Tigers picked up their accuracy in the third quarter and drained four 3-pointers -- two each from Sato and Ikehara -- for a 17-6 advantage.
By the time the Lady Sabers made the requisite adjustments to guard the arc, they faced a 17-point deficit with just half of the fourth quarter left.
"We hit some big shots. Our 3s weren't falling earlier, but when they do it kind of hurts," said lei-laden McKinley coach Bob Morikuni, who also had success coaching the McKinley boys basketball team to the Division II state title this year. His girls team collects the OIA's top position in the state tournament next week.
The Tigers shot 9-for-22 (41 percent) from long range for the game.
"I just told them to keep doing what they were doing," Morikuni continued. "It was going to fall sometime, and on offense, they did what they normally did."
McKinley handled Campbell's press effectively throughout the game and forced mistakes with their own pressure, leading to 23 Sabers turnovers to nine of their own.
Pearly Togiai added 12 points and Kylie Sato, Chelsie's little sister, had 10, to give the team four starters in double figures.
"Everybody came out with intensity, all the girls were all there, and it's an amazing feeling," Chelsie Sato said. "It was all teamwork and a team effort. This game meant (a lot) to me. Perfect."
Kylie Sato was ecstatic being able to assist her older sister in such a big game.
"It feels great," said the freshman. "I've been wanting to do this ever since I was in fifth grade, coming out to summer programs and playing. I was kind of waiting until I could play with my sister her senior year, to win states and OIAs."
McKinley was the only team to defeat Campbell in league play this year. Sabers coach Nathan Macadangdang gave credit to the Tigers' collective gunner mentality.
"We didn't recover from that," Macadangdang said. "Usually when somebody shoots that way, at least we can go down and convert. But we didn't, and found it hard to catch up."
The senior Sato shot 4-for-7 and Ikehara was 4-for-10 from long range, the latter often from several feet beyond the line.
Oli Kila led Campbell with 16 points and five rebounds. Vai Confer came off the bench to score eight and grab 10 caroms.
At Student Council Gym
MCKINLEY--Jackie Tihano 1, Kaitlyn Ikehara 14, Chelsie Sato 19, Pearly Togiai 13, Kylie Sato 10, Crystal Tafa'i 2, Jorina Faletoi 4, Allyson Villanueva 0, Sasha Hong 0, Jaelynn Lopez 0, Maribel Hebron 0.
CAMPBELL--Cheyna Tagura 2, Aloha Dias-Kekahuna 7, Amber Kaulia 9, Jenny Sweeney 10, Oli Kila 16, Ipo Kila 0, Vai Confer 8, Shawny Vera Cruz 0.
3-point goals--McKinley 9 (Ikehara 4, C. Sato 4, K. Sato), Campbell 3 (Hebron 3).