Star-Bulletin Sports


Unbeaten Buffanblu
dominate Warriors

Punahou uses a patient offense
and aggressive defense
to whip Kamehameha

By Nick Abramo

Fans expecting last night's Interscholastic League of Honolulu girls basketball showdown to be a titanic midseason struggle filed out of Hemmeter Fieldhouse disappointed.

The Buffanblu improved to 15-0 overall and 6-0 in the league with a dominating 58-36 victory over the Warriors (12-3, 5-1).

A patient and smooth set offense, and a ballhawking, aggressive man-to-man defense were the major factors for Punahou against error-prone Kamehameha.

"We weren't ready to play," Warriors coach Clay Cockett said. "They're (Punahou) a well-drilled team and they feed off of each other with a lot of energy. We had nothing ... a lot of scared people out there."

Cockett wasn't totally surprised by Kamehameha's lackluster performance.

"We didn't have good practices this week," he added. "We should have been ready and we weren't."

Point guard Rachel Kane was the catalyst for Punahou, finishing with 15 points, on 6-for-9 shooting, seven rebounds, five assists and seven steals.

Pivot Becky Hogue added 11 points and five rebounds, and she helped to plug up the middle and force Kamehameha to shoot from the outside.

"We shot the ball a little better (than Kamehameha)," said Punahou coach Mike Taylor. "We executed on offense and blocked out well on defense, and that's the stuff we've been working on since day one.

"We always preach aggressive hands and moving feet on defense. In the preseason, we had a little too much hands and now we've got more of a balance. On offense, everybody was ready --on the perimeter and inside -- and the girls knew to shoot if they felt they were in the comfort zone."

Comfort zone? The Buffanblu made 22 of 37 field goals and were 14 of 20 from the free-throw line.

Those figures would be enough for any team to win. Add in the Warriors' shaky effort and the Buffanblu's undying hustle and you get the final 22-point margin.

Kamehameha was right in it for most of the first quarter, trailing by one, 9-8, with 2:30 to go.

But Punahou established its dominance with a 13-0 run for a 22-8 lead midway through the second quarter. Megan Abbott canned two perimeter shots, and Kane and Shanna Dacanay added two baskets each in the surge.

The crisp Buffanblu passing was evident when Dacanay threaded the needle to Kane, who was fouled but still hit a 10-footer and the ensuing free throw.

Amber Carter's 3-pointer for the Warriors helped cut into the Punahou lead, but Kamehameha missed three other long-range bombs late in the half and Punahou held a comfortable 32-13 lead at the half.

The Warriors played their best basketball of the night early in the third quarter on three straight hoops by Ashley Ruff, India Soo and Mounia Nihipali to make it 34-19.

And the Warriors also went on an inspired 8-2 run midway through the fourth quarter as Nihipali drilled home two from the outside and Megan Ching drove in for a bucket. But the damage was done, and Kamehameha still trailed 53-31.

Punahou continued to play aggressively, blocking shots, making steals and diving for loose balls all the way until the final buzzer.

Kamehameha shot 14-for-39 from the field and 7-for-16 from the line. Ching led the way with 12 points and six rebounds, and Nihipali added 10 points and six boards.

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