POSTED: Friday, February 27, 2009
Only when the ball fell to the court and the buzzer sounded did Kalani Silva allow himself to take a deep breath.
The Kamehameha-Hawaii coach had watched his team lose a 10-point cushion in the second half of last night's Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships Division II semifinal game against Kaimuki, then reclaim the lead on Chelsea Poe's putback with 11 seconds left.
But it wasn't until Kaimuki's last-second shot came up short, that the Warriors were able to celebrate a dramatic 42-41 win and a return to the state final last night at Jim Alegre Gymnasium.
"As soon as we won the BIIF title, I told them it's going to get exponentially harder," said Silva, whose team edged Kaiser the night before. "And whoever we face (in the championship) it's just going to be a big stage for our young kids."
The Warriors will face Molokai for the Division II championship today at 5 p.m. at Blaisdell Arena. Kaimuki falls into the 11 a.m. third-place game.
Two of the youngest Warriors were instrumental in giving Kamehameha-Hawaii a shot at the program's third state title in five years.
Sophomore center Katelynne Paleka-Kennedy came off the bench to lead the Warriors with 13 points and Poe, a freshman guard, provided the decisive bucket by securing a missed 3-pointer and dropping in the game-winner.
"We kept our head in the game and just kept pushing to the last buzzer. When the last shot went up ... it was the best feeling in the world," Poe said.
After Poe gave Kamehameha-Hawaii the lead, Kaimuki worked the ball to senior guard Olivia Phommachanh—who led all scorers with 15 points—for a final attempt. But her driving jumper came up just short at the buzzer.
"Very nervous," Sliva said of his emotions as Phommachanh went up for the shot. "That's why we picked up full court, so she only had 2 seconds to do it."
After a plodding start to the game, Paleka-Kennedy energized the Warriors with eight first-quarter points. The 6-foot-2 sophomore scored on a layup off an assist from Poe, then cleaned up the offensive boards for three putbacks, the last giving Kamehameha-Hawaii a 13-5 lead at the end of the period.
Kamehameha-Hawaii pushed the lead to 33-23 with a 10-2 run early in the third quarter capped by Joelle Cabasa's driving shot while drawing a foul.
But Phommachanh responded with a deep 3-pointer to ignite a 7-0 Kaimuki run.
The Bulldogs stayed close and vaulted ahead 41-40 on a 3-pointer by Letisha Fa'asoa with 1:17 left.
After two missed free throws by Kaimuki, KS-Hawaii guard Kayla Lacaran-Costales' 3-pointer was off the mark and Poe corralled the rebound and dropped in the go-ahead bucket with 11 seconds left.
"Actually we wanted to run offense, but I'll take it," Silva said. "(Poe's) been playing tough all year long like that. I'm glad for her; she deserves it."
KAIMUKI—Olivia Phommachanh 15, Pua Akaka 0, Tanya Villanueva 1, Dinishah Fa'asoa 4, Brittney Anglin 0, Letisha Fa'asoa 5, Dejah Fa'asoa 9, Leti Mikaele 0, Ashley Fortson 0, Lani Mikaele 7.
KAMEHAMEHA-HAWAII—Chelsea Poe 3, Joelle Cabasa 8, Kayla Lacaran-Costales 6, Shanley Apele 8, Lilinoe Heaukulani 0, Bobbi Montibon 0, Kimberly Palea 4, Katelynne Paleka-Kennedy 13.
3-point goals—Kaimuki 3 (Phommachanh 2, L. Fa'asoa), Kamehameha-Hawaii 2 (Lacaran-Costales 2).
Kahuku 72, University 54
Maryknoll 59, Kaiser 58, OT
HBA 47, Hawaii Prep 38