RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou celebrated its victory over Iolani to win the HHSAA girls Division I championship last night at Stan Sheriff Center.
GIRLS DIVISION I CHAMPIONSHIP
Punahou girls reign
Kuehus star as the Buffanblu claim their third state championship in four years
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» State High School Basketball Championships
It wasn't pretty, but overcoming pain, injuries and big leads to giant killers is never easy.
Led by twins Shawna-Lei and Shaena-Lyn Kuehu, Punahou captured its third state crown in the last four years with a 46-41 win over Iolani last night in the finals of the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Girls Basketball Division I State Championships.
Shawna-Lei Kuehu, who came back from an ACL injury suffered little more than a year ago, had 20 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks for Punahou (21-6 overall). Shaena-Lyn Kuehu had 10 rebounds and sparked a fullcourt press that led Punahou from a nine-point deficit in the third quarter.
Rebecca Lau stepped up with 12 points, sinking all six of her free-throw tries, to make up the difference for injured teammate Janelle Nomura.
Nomura played on a sprained ankle, but finished with seven points, all from the foul line.
Chanel Hirata paced Iolani (24-5) with 18 points, including two 3-pointers. Jamie Smith finished with eight points and nine boards against Punahou's tall, active defenders.
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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Punahou's Shaena-Lyn Kuehu tried to control the ball in front of Iolani's Chanel Hirata last night.
Shawna-Lei Kuehu scored 20 points, including the go-ahead basket with 5:17 left, as top-seeded Punahou rallied to beat Iolani 46-41 last night in the Division I final of the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships.
Kuehu, who scored eight points in the final quarter, grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Her twin sister, Shaena-Lyn, had 10 boards and sparked Punahou's stellar defensive effort. Rebecca Lau added 12 points, all the more valuable because backcourt mate Janelle Nomura played with an ankle sprain suffered in the semifinals.
"It was good to have the twins back," Nomura said of the Kuehus, who missed last year with ACL injuries. "We wanted to win it for them and the (other) seniors."
The Buffanblu (21-6 overall) did it with an all-out fullcourt press, turning the tide against an Iolani squad that was in total control with a nine-point lead in the third quarter.
"Coach (Mike Taylor) didn't even call for the man press. He wanted us to do our zone press, but we said, no way, we're going man up, fullcourt," Shawna-Lei Kuehu said. "Just man up!"
The result was a complete turnaround and a shocking end for the upset-minded Raiders, who finished second to Punahou in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
"We were anxious for awhile, but we came together and played team defense, got more aggressive," Taylor said.
Chanel Hirata led Iolani (24-5) with 18 points. Jamie Smith finished with eight points and nine rebounds against a swarm of tall defenders under the basket. Punahou limited Iolani to 33 percent shooting (11-for-33) and dominated the boards, 39-25.
Before 2,442 at the Stan Sheriff Center, Punahou captured its 10th state title, including three in the past four seasons.
"Mike just did a great job," Iolani coach Glenn Takara said. "We rushed things and, as coaches, we could've done a better job preparing our team."
Punahou trailed 33-24 midway through the third quarter, but the fullcourt press wore down the Raiders.
Iolani, playing its fourth game in as many nights, fell prey to turnovers, but still had a 37-33 lead at the end of the third quarter on Lori Yamashita's coast-to-coast layup.
The Buffanblu got a bank shot from Kuehu on a fast break, and then a pair of free throws by Lau to tie the game at 37 with 6:14 to go.
After roofing Kylie Ahlo in the paint, Kuehu hit a pull-up 15-footer to give Punahou a 39-37 lead with 5:17 left.
Hirata sank two foul shots to bring Iolani within 40-39 with 2:47 remaining, but Nomura hit three free throws for a 42-39 lead, and Kuehu made two more foul shots for a five-point margin with 19 seconds to go.
Iolani cut the lead to 44-41 on a pair of foul shots by Dayna Jandoc, but Kuehu sank two more free throws with 4.4 seconds left to seal the win.
The Raiders held Punahou to 23 percent shooting (11-for-48).
"They should keep their heads high," Takara said of his team. "Even though they lost the championship, they had a great season, a great run. They played hard, and that's all we can ask for."
The title is the fourth under Taylor, whose teams also won the championship in 2003, '05 and '06 -- all with the Kuehu twins except the first.
The lone year when Punahou didn't win a state title with the Kuehus, 2007, was when they suffered ACL injuries.
Shawna-Lei Kuehu was voted by media as the most outstanding player of the tournament. Joining her on the all-tourney team were Shaena-Lyn Kuehu, Kira DeMorales of Waiakea, Jamie Smith and Chanel Hirata of Iolani, and Ta Nitra Byrd of Radford.
At Stan Sheriff Center
IOLANI -- Tami Konishi 0, Kylie Ahlo 2, Lahela Usui 0, Lori Yamashita 2, Chanel Hirata 18, Dayna Jandoc 2, Jamie Smith 8, Raechele Takara 7, Georgette Lopes-Liutolo 0, Hailey Maeda 2.
PUNAHOU -- Rebecca Lau 12, Dara Tompkison 0, Anna Merrifield 0, Shawna-Lei Kuehu 20, Ashley Satterwhite 0, Shaena-Lyn Kuehu 7, Janelle Nomura 7, Tressa Torres 0, Tiera Jenson 0.
3-point goals -- Iolani 3 (Hirata 2, Takara), Punahou 0.
Radford 51, Waiakea 42
Kalani 59, Lahainaluna 42
State High School Basketball Championships
DIVISION I BOYS SEMIFINALS
DIVISION II BOYS SEMIFINALS
DIVISION I GIRLS FINAL
DIVISION II GIRLS FINAL