OIA RED GIRLS SEMIFINALS
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Radford's Ta Nitra Byrd went strong to the hoop against Roosevelt's Tasia Kamakawiwo'ole in a game at Mililani last night.
Rams and Falcons move on
Ta Nitra Byrd got her first shot of the night rejected. From that point on, the Radford center was unstoppable.
Byrd put up team highs of 18 points and seven rebounds to lead the undefeated and third-ranked Rams over No. 7 Roosevelt 36-31 last night in an Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Division semifinal at Mililani.
Radford takes on Kalani for the OIA title tomorrow at McKinley in the Lady Rams' second straight final appearance.
All of Byrd's eight field goals were in the paint, and usually came against a double- or triple-team by the Rough Riders. She hit for 12 in the first half before the Riders gradually sent more and more pressure at her.
"Basically Coach (Tani Dutro) told me I have to make my moves, go in there and create opportunities," Byrd said. "Credit to the team, every time we put a shot up we'd go up for a rebound."
Indeed, the Rams (14-0) took advantage of their taller front line to amass 16 offensive rebounds for second and third chances, which became huge in a game starved for offensive flow.
It was Radford's biggest test in the OIA yet, after it steamrolled through Red West foes for a perfect regular season record at 12-0.
Knocking off Moanalua and last night's East opponent gave confidence to first-year coach Dutro, especially against the team that defeated the Lady Rams in the OIA title game last year. She wasn't there for that game, but most of her team was.
"I think that was big," she said. "The girls, I know they're happy about that. It's something they wanted to do. And for us to win a close one like this ... huge."
Roosevelt (10-4) had won both OIA titles since the league split into Red and White divisions two years ago.
"It feels good. People always doubt the West, saying we can't compete with anybody from the East," Byrd said.
After hanging within four points the whole game, Roosevelt tied things up at 27 and again at 29 early in the fourth quarter. But the Rough Riders got in serious trouble when team captain Dianna Zane fouled out with 49.5 seconds left.
"We have special things we run in these situations (being down by a possession near the end of games), but she's in them," Roosevelt coach Bobby Keanini said. "That hurt us a lot. The intensity of the game went down."
Keanini's team was still within a possession at 34-31, but without Zane, Roosevelt had two unforced turnovers in the halfcourt in the final minute and couldn't get off a 3-point shot. Radford yielded only five field goals in the second half.
Bui Baravilala hustled for an offensive rebound on a missed free throw in the final 20 seconds and Marlena Malepeai hit another foul shot to ice it.
Guard Tiana Sugui led Roosevelt with 11 points and eight rebounds. Zane finished with seven points, three steals and four boards.
At Mililani H.S. gym
ROOSEVELT-Dianna Zane 7, Tiana Sugui 11, Tiyana Nakasone 3, Keely Bitanga 0, Tasia Kamakawiwo'ole 4, Mikela Thoemmes 4, Jayna Tasaka 0, Cierra Kapea 2.
RADFORD-Brittini Fuller 3, Marlena Malepeai 7, Chelsea-Ann Villanueva 4, Marsharen Dupont 0, Ta Nitra Byrd 18, Bui Baravilala 2, Itali Lindsey 2.
3-point goals: Roosevelt 3 (Zane, Sugui, Nakasone), Radford none.
No. 6 Kalani 58, Aiea 30
Violet Alama scored 15 points as the Falcons easily handled Na Alii to move into tomorrow's Red Division final against Radford.
Rhianna Farm added 12 points and Chloe Martin hit three 3-pointers en route to 11 points for Kalani.
At Kalani H.S. gym
AIEA -- Piilani Boner-Lee 0, Ashlei Liilii 0, Natasha Helsham 7, Natasha Fong 6, Danielle Grace 0, Crystal Tagudin 3, Rayna Strom-Okimoto 1, Kaui Kuehu 2, Emily Tausaga 2, Capri Holiona 1, Jennifer Yuen 4, Carol Sio 4.
KALANI -- Chloe Martin 11, Kayla Kimura 0, Brandi Yamauchi 0, Tiffany Liao 0, Iwalani Rodrigues 7, Ashlyn Onaga 4, Rhianna Farm 12, Jamie Higa 4, Violet Alama 15, Cara Kameshiro 3, Tiare Maafala 0, Tia Kobayashi 2.
3-point goals -- Aiea 1 (Helsham), Kalani 4 (Martin 3, Kamehiro).