Star-Bulletin Sports

Tuesday, May 15, 2001


Iolani's Tiffany Shim, left, slapped the ball away from
Kamehameha's Megan Ching, right, during last
night's game.

Defending champs out

By Grace Wen

It's difficult to beat a team three times in a season.

The Kamehameha girls basketball team found that out last night.

Iolani proved that the third time was the charm as the Raiders avenged two regular-season losses to earn the Interscholastic League of Honolulu's second berth into the state tournament.

The Raiders eliminated the two-time defending state champion Warriors, 56-42, for the ILH Tournament championship at McCabe Gym.

Punahou (12-1) and Iolani (11-4) will represent the ILH in the state tournament, which begins Friday. It is the first appearance for the Raiders since they won the state title in 1996.

"I feel like I'm dreaming," guard Trisha Nishimoto said. "Everyone came to win. We played as a team. We knew we had to step it up. We knew we had nothing to lose and we just gave it our all at practice and fought to the end tonight."

Nishimoto led the scoring for Iolani with 23 points. But she also orchestrated much of the fast-running offense along with senior guard Monica Tokoro.

The two ran the same play most of the night -- driving the lane and drawing defenders out before dishing the ball to a wide-open Ginger Gravelle or Elyssa Street.

Gravelle posted a career-high 14 points while Street added four.

"We knew that they would be guarding us tight so we didn't know whether or not we'd be getting the ball back," Nishimoto said. "We tried to do what we could when we had the ball."

Iolani raced out to a 10-5 lead in the first quarter. The Raiders opened the second quarter with a 10-2 run, but Kamehameha chipped away at the lead with a run of its own.

Tai Soo nailed a jumper to start the run and Noelle Russell had a lay-up and hit a 3-pointer to cut Iolani's lead to 21-16.

But that was the closest the Warriors would come, as Iolani padded its lead and outscored Kamehameha, 16-8, in the third quarter.

"Iolani had more heart than we did," Kamehameha coach Clay Cockett said. "They executed well. We didn't keep with them at all. They had more energy. They're smarter than we are. We've been living on our plastic success.

"Monica (Tokoro) and Trisha (Nishimoto) are two of the best players in the state right now."

Tokoro and Nishimoto connected on numerous plays in the fourth quarter. Besides creating plays for Gravelle and Street, they assisted each other. The guards connected on back-to-back long passes for easy points midway through the fourth period.

Though the duo led the team, it was the collective effort of the Raiders that propelled them into the state tournament.

"We knew they didn't have much speed, so what we tried to do is spread ourselves, control the tempo and take care of the ball," Iolani coach Glenn Takara said. "We just played well together. It's hard for somebody to beat somebody three times in a row."

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