HIGH SCHOOL WATER POLO
Ahue helps Kahuku earn OIA title berth
For Gina Ahue, an elbow to the nose was a small price to pay.
Ahue, who missed the last minute of the first half with a bloody nose, scored five goals and had three steals as unbeaten Kahuku rallied past Kapolei 10-4 last night in the semifinals of the Oahu Interscholastic Association water polo playoffs.
"We talk about it every day," Ahue said, showing no sign of the injury. "Kapolei is one of the toughest teams."
Six-time defending champ Kahuku (15-0) will return to Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park today to meet Roosevelt in the title game.
"They're the best conditioned, they have the best ball skills and they play together as a team," Kapolei coach Dexter Lee said. "I think they'll go far in the state tournament."
Kapolei had the second-best record during the regular season, but the Hurricanes forfeited three wins earlier this week due to an ineligible player. However, Kapolei still has junior Alexandra Jamora, a force yesterday with two goals and five steals.
"Al's gonna take her shots. If you foul her, you have to be ready," Kahuku coach Makana Whitford said. "She's fast and has long arms."
The 'Canes took 23 shots, which is roughly double what most teams manage against Kahuku. Raiders' goalkeeper Ella Aiwohi had 11 saves.
"I'm glad it was a good game," Whitford said. "Kapolei has fast swimmers. I wanted to see if our girls were in swimming shape."
Kapolei gave Kahuku fits for a quarter. Ahue scored on a pass from Kelsey Wardle with 4:03 left, but Jamora tied the game, and Shantel Chong fired in a shot from 7 yards out to give the 'Canes a 2-1 lead with 30 seconds to go in the first.
"We were feeling really good about how far we'd come," Jamora said. "We tried not to get ahead of ourselves, to stay focused."
Kahuku, however, scored eight unanswered goals.
"Our passes got a lot better. We were communicating," Ahue said.
Brooke Roy hustled for a rebound and had a point-blank range putback to tie the game at 2-all with 5:31 left in the second. Minnie Whitford, who finished with two goals and three steals, scored from 6 yards out off a feed from Ahue to give Kahuku a 3-2 lead with 3:04 to go in the first half.
Moments later, Ahue scored from 10 yards out, right through the middle with an assist from Whitford, and Kahuku led 4-2. Ahue left the pool with a bloody nose from the elbow of Jamora, but returned in the second half.
The Lady Raiders have been resilient despite a mid-season bus accident that left two players with season-ending injuries.
"We try to forget about it," Ahue said. "We're just glad to be here playing."
Roosevelt 6, Leilehua 2
Taesha-Marie Keola scored two goals as the second-seeded Rough Riders (13-2) broke a 1-1 tie in the second quarter.
Brittney Sweeny and Krystina Navarro each scored a goal for Leilehua (11-4) in the first half.
Patrice Dang scored in the first quarter, while Tiffany Tran, Bori Stoytcheva and Keola scored in the second to push Roosevelt ahead 4-2. Leticia Ruiz and Keola added goals in the final quarter.
"Some of our first-year players really came through today," Roosevelt coach Susan Nishioka said.
During the regular season, her team was tied at 2-2 with Kahuku at the half before losing.
"Kahuku has that tradition of winning. It'll be interesting," she said.