Punahou advances


POSTED: Friday, February 27, 2009

They were, by their own account, very, very lucky.




Girls State Tournament Semifinals


Punahou (1)42
Lahainaluna (4)37
Konawaena (2)51
Farrington (3)43
Molokai (4)47
Kamehameha-Hawaii (2)42


In reality, the hard-working Punahou Buffanblu made some of that luck and fought off a furious Lahainaluna rally for a 42-37 win last night in the Division I semifinals of the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships at Neal Blaisdell Arena.

The top-seeded, defending champion Buffanblu (13-1) advanced to the final and will play Konawaena tonight at the Blaisdell.

Fourth-seeded Lahainaluna, in the semifinal round for the first time, dropped to 22-2 overall.

Relying on a pesky defense that turned several steals into layups, Punahou built a 36-26 lead before it nearly evaporated. Punahou went nearly 7 minutes without scoring, while the Lady Lunas got nine points in a row from Milika Taufa and Ofa Namoa. Taufa's pull-up baseline jumper brought Lahainaluna within 36-35 with 2:57 left.

However, the Lunas (13-1) missed shots on their next two possessions that could've given them a lead for the first time since the second quarter.

Janelle Nomura, who led Punahou with 18 points, missed the front side of a 1-and-1 for the third time in a row with 1:59 left.

“;After the first (miss), I got frustrated. I think that's why I missed,”; said Nomura, who is averaging 23 points per game in the tourney. “;We needed every point.”;

However, Namoa wouldn't attack on the low post with single coverage, instead kicking it out to Taufa, who missed from the left elbow.

A moment later, in a scramble for the ball at midcourt, Lahainaluna point guard Maiki Viela dove for the ball, but instead of calling timeout, shoveled the ball back. Nomura scooped up the gift and drove for an easy bucket to make it 38-35 with 49 seconds left.

“;Isn't that wild? We were just lucky,”; Punahou coach Mike Taylor said.

It was a bad break for the Lunas, who had an assistant coach running the sideline trying in vain to get a timeout called to no avail.

“;She was going out of control and luckily I picked up the ball,”; Nomura said.

Lahainaluna had time and timeouts—three in all—but kept playing and turned the ball over when Nomura poked it away from reserve forward Ana-Marie Lauese. That led to a feed from Nomura to Mysha Sataraka with 26 seconds left and Punahou led 40-35.

Viela hit a pull-up jumper from the foul line with 12 seconds left to cut the lead to 40-37, but the Lunas again didn't call timeout. Instead, the ball rolled out of bounds and bounced several times before Punahou inbounded the ball. By the time Nomura caught the inbounds pass and was fouled, there were only 2.6 seconds remaining.

She sank both foul shots for the final margin of victory.

Taufa, a 6-foot junior, led the Lunas with 11 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Namoa added 10 points and 10 boards for the Lunas, who turned the ball over 20 times against Punahou's rugged man-to-man defense.



Blaisdell Arena

Lahainaluna (15-1)  19341137
Punahou (13-1) 15109842

LAHAINALUNA—Maiki Viela 8, Trina Akima 3, Rachael Rickard 5, Mele Filikitonga 0, Milika Taufa 11, Kelsea Cabrera 0, Hiilei Bacalso 0, Ana-Marie Lauese 0, Matenoa Taufa 0, Ofa Namoa 10.

PUNAHOU—Rebecca Lau 6, Anna Merrifield 0, Janelle Nomura 18, Jennifer Ching 0, Tressa Torres 3, Julianne Nomura 2, Janet Li 6, Mysha Sataraka 6, Julia Brand 0, Kysa Ludviksen 1.

3-point goals—Lahainaluna 1 (Akima), Punahou 3 (Lau 2, Ja. Nomura).