Lahainaluna wins with power and speed


POSTED: Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's almost unfair, having size and speed in one big red machine.

The Lahainaluna Lady Lunas have no pity, though, for any foe who can't keep pace. Milika Taufa had 24 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks as the fourth-seeded Lunas ran away from Roosevelt 58-44 last night at Farrington's Richard Kitamura Memorial Fieldhouse in the Division I quarterfinals of the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships.

Lahainaluna (15-0) advanced to the semifinal round for the first time in the program's history. Point guard Maiki Viela directed the Lunas' fast break and finished with 10 points and six assists.

“;It feels good,”; said Viela, a sophomore. “;We finally broke through.”;

Reserve guard Kelsea Cabrera's defense on Roosevelt sharpshooter Nicole Ramirez was impeccable, but she also added 12 points, almost all in transition.

The Lunas outscored Roosevelt 12-2 in fast-break points, jolting a faithful Lahainaluna following of more than 100 loud fans.

“;Their bigs are like us, but in the long run, I think we were better condition-wise,”; said Taufa, a 5-foot-11 senior.

Lahainaluna had a nine-point lead when the tiring Rough Riders made one last push. An 8-0 run, including six points by Mikela Thoemmes, brought Roosevelt within 42-41 with 5:48 left.

“;Historically, this is where MIL teams have let it slip away,”; Lahainaluna coach Todd Rickard said. “;I told the girls this is the time to dig deep and push ourselves for one last run.”;

Viela hit a pull-up jumper from the right elbow and Rachael Rickard fed Cabrera for a fast-break layup as the Lunas went on a 15-2 run to close out the game.

“;We were planning on playing zone, using some halfcourt trap, but after Roosevelt's game (against Waiakea), we had to go man-to-man,”; coach Rickard said. “;We had to stop those 3s.”;

Playing less than 24 hours after an opening-round win over Waiakea, Roosevelt shot 29 percent from the field (13-for-45) and committed 21 turnovers against Lahainaluna's fullcourt press and halfcourt man defenses.

Thoemmes had 16 points and 11 boards for OIA runner-up Roosevelt (12-8), but struggled on the low post against Taufa and shot only 4-for-18 from the field. Joshy Noga added 13 points, and Tasia Kamakawiwo'ole added seven points and 10 rebounds.

Lahainaluna shot 24-for-49 from the field - 49 percent. Taufa was 11-for-18.

The first half featured 12 lead changes before the Lunas went on a 7-0 run to seize a 28-22 halftime lead. They scored the first seven points of the second half to open a 35-22 lead, the largest of the game.

The Rough Riders battled back to 37-31 before the end of the quarter.

Roosevelt (12-8)12101111-44
Lahainaluna (15-0)13151416-58

ROOSEVELT-Kelcie Namba 6, Abcde Furuta-Harada 0, Mikela Thoemmes 16, Joshy Noga 13, Tasia Kamakawiwoole 7, Charisse Tanabe 0, Samantha Murakami 0, Kathleen Nakata 0, Nicole Ramirez 2, Rachel Gomes 0.

LAHAINALUNA-Maiki Viela 10, Trina Akima 0, Rachael Rickard 4, Mele Filikitonga 2, Milika Taufa 24, Kelsea Cabrera 12, Hiilei Bacalso 0, Ana-Marie Lauese 2, Matenoa Taufa 2, Ofa Namoa 2.

3-point goals-none.

Punahou 53, Aiea 36

Janelle Nomura poured in 28 points as the top-seeded Buffanblu (12-1) advanced to the semifinals.

“;We got over the first step. Now it's step two,”; Nomura said of the defending state champs.

The Buffanblu will play fourth-seeded Lahainaluna today at 5 p.m. at Neal Blaisdell Arena.

“;I know they've got bigs with Milika (Taufa) and Ofa (Namoa). Roosevelt has good bigs, and if they outplayed Roosevelt, they're really good,”; Nomura added.

Natasha Helsham led Aiea (12-6) with 13 points and five assists. Carol Sio added 10 points.

At Farrington

Aiea (12-6)413109-36
Punahou (12-1)15151013-53

AIEA-Natasha Helsham 13, Natasha Fong 4, Kaui Kuehu 0, Emily Tausaga 0, Carol Sio 10, Celeste Fong 0, Crystal Tagudin 6, Rayna Strom-Okimoto 3.

PUNAHOU-Rebecca Lau 2, Anna Merrifield 0, Janelle Nomura 28, Jennifer Ching 3, Tressa Torres 6, Kaylin Okuma 4, Julianne Nomura 2, Janet Li 2, Brittnie Lau 0, Mysha Sataraka 2, Ashley-Anne Feria 0, Julia Brand 2, Kysa Ludviksen 2.

3-point goals-Aiea 2 (Helsham, Fong), Punahou 5 (Ja. Nomura 4, Okuma).