Ah Yen leads Bears to victory


POSTED: Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Baldwin senior guard Shauna Ah Yen knows that her days in a basketball uniform are numbered.

“;This is my last year,”; she said. “;I just try to give it my all. It might be the last time I ever play ball.”;

Yesterday, Ah Yen ensured that Baldwin would play one more game when she scored a game-high 20 points as the Bears beat Moanalua 41-36 in the first round of the Hawaiian Airlines/Hawaii High School Athletic Association Girls Basketball State Championships at Kaimuki gym.

With the victory, Baldwin advances to play Konawaena (12-0), the second-seeded team in Division I, tonight. Tip-off is 5 p.m. at Kaimuki.

To merely note Ah Yen's 20 points on 10-for-12 shooting and her four rebounds, two blocks and four steals would drastically underplay her all-around contributions to the Bears' win.

As Baldwin charged out to an early double-digit lead, Ah Yen was the catalyst, knocking down runners in the lane. And when Moanalua made a furious second-half comeback, Ah Yen was her young team's stabilizing force and her key baskets stymied Na Menehune's momentum.

“;Without her, we wouldn't be here, to tell you the truth,”; said Baldwin coach Angel Kalehuawehe. “;I mean, we need five people on the court (and) 12 on the team. But in actuality, she's our bread and butter.”;

And Ah Yen's bread and butter is her dribble-drive into the lane for pull-up jumpers and off-balance runners. She got that facet of her game going early, scoring 12 points in the first two quarters and nearly outscoring Moanalua (13 points) in the first half.

“;She's our go-to person,”; Kalehuawehe said.

She was also a defensive force. Though generously listed at 5-foot-5, Ah Yen rejected two shots and her quick hands harassed Na Menehune ballhandlers into committing four turnovers.

In the second half, Ah Yen made timely plays to save her team. As Moanalua ratcheted up its fullcourt press, creating a frenetic pace and forcing repeated Baldwin turnovers, Na Menehune whittled the 11-point lead down to just two with less than 10 minutes left in the game.

“;We just panicked,”; Kalehuawehe said of his team's reaction to Moanalua's fullcourt press. “;We just didn't handle it well. I don't know what it was, but we panicked.”;

But not Ah Yen. With Moanalua trailing just 26-24 late in the third quarter, she corralled a long offensive rebound, getting teammate Samantha Agtunong a wide-open 2-pointer to double the lead heading into the fourth quarter.

In the fourth quarter, with Baldwin clinging to a three-point lead, Ah Yen's quick hands forced a steal, which she converted into an easy fast-break layup. Later, she attacked Na Menehune's fullcourt press and scored an easy layup to give Baldwin a 33-29 lead.

The game ended, fittingly, with Ah Yen hustling down to grab an offensive board and turn it into yet another layup.

“;They stepped it up a level in the second half and when they stepped it up, we knew we had to step it up too,”; she said.

Moanalua could have easily folded early in the game, but its fullcourt press and the late emergence of its sophomore star, Joanna Nicolas, kept this game from being a runaway. After managing just two points in a frustrating first half, Nicolas keyed a 7-2 run early in the third quarter that got Moanalua back in the game. Nicolas finished with a team-high 11 points.

But it wasn't enough to thwart Ah Yen and Baldwin, who will face Konawaena for the second time this season. Konawaena, which had a bye yesterday, blew out Baldwin in the preseason.

The Bears are hoping things are different this time around.

“;They're a tough team,”; Kalehuawehe said. “;It seemed like in the preseason, they were in midseason form.”;

Tonight will determine which team has the best postseason form.


Baldwin (11-4)101261341
Moanalua (6-12)76111236

BALDWIN—Samantha Agtunong 7, Malia Chang 10, Shauna Ah Yen 20, Christine Co 2, Tasha Buika 0, Jennifer Alakai 0, Dayna Villanova 0, Dezerae Kodama 0, Breanna Gaddis 0, Malia Killiam 0, Danielle Ai 0, Ariana Newton 2.

MOANALUA—Kiley Lau 4, Joanna Nicolas 11, Michelle Hardy 5, Amanda Selvey 0, Meleane Smith 4, Jaidon Rego 3, Hoku Dela Cruz 2, A.J. Verdida 0, Justine Aguas 7.

3-point goals—Baldwin 1 (Agtunong), Moanalua 1 (Nicolas).

'Iolani 42, Kailua 29
It took 'Iolani nearly the entire first quarter to find the bottom of the nets against Kailua last night.

But once the Raiders found their scoring touch, they quickly put away the Surfriders. With the win, 'Iolani earned a matchup with third-seeded Farrington (18-1) today at Kaimuki. Tip-off is 7 p.m.

“;We were a little bit sluggish today,”; 'Iolani coach Marlene Zeug said. “;I think a lot of our girls are battling colds. It's a late game.

“;One of the things we talked about in our timeouts is really getting after it and remembering to have fun and enjoy the game.”;

'Iolani's Tami Konishi led all scorers with 13 points on 3-for-7 3-point shooting in 17 minutes. Lori Yamashita added 12 points and five steals.

Kailua was led by Sola Williams' 10 points.

Kailua (8-10)34814 29
'Iolani (10-5)514111242

KAILUA—Jayna Hanawahine 1, Tawny Kiko 6, Sola Williams 10, Teuila Asele , Zsalei Kamaka 2, Ka'u Kohatsu 0, Alysha Franco , Anu Ah Yun 6, Teuila Afele 0, Tia Navarro 4.

'IOLANI—Elysse Tom 0, Tami Konishi 13, Kylie Maeda 1, Saphyre Rezentes 2, Lori Yamashita 12, Georgette Lopes-Liutolo 5, Kaitlyn Shikada 0, Kryn Masutani 0, Mahina Haina 4, Lahela Usui 2, Shauni Watanabe 1, Brittany Barnes 2.

3-point goals—Kailua 1 (Navarro), 'Iolani 4 (Konishi 3, Yamashita).