ILH in 17-1 rout
Some 165 seconds into last night's girls water polo match, Kamehameha was thinking the unthinkable. The Warriors were thinking upset, after taking a 1-0 lead against Punahou at the Buffanblu's Waterhouse Pool.
Tiare Nobrega scored at the 4:15 mark of the first quarter and Kamehameha had a 1-0 lead over the five-time defending Interscholastic League of Honolulu champions.
It wouldn't last.
Less than a minute later, Punahou's Kamaile Crowell tied it up. With two minutes left in the quarter, Crowell put the Buffanblu ahead for good with the second of her five goals as the undefeated Buffanblu routed the Warriors 17-1 for a sixth consecutive ILH title.
"We hung in there for the first half, it was just 5-1," said Kamehameha coach Ben Nagy. "When we beat Iolani (8-3 in Wednesday's semifinals), that was a tremendous win for these girls. They showed we could score.
"But whenever we see Punahou, we freeze. And then Punahou got into a groove."
Punahou sophomore Natale Rigg got the Buffanblu going with the first of her five goals. She gave Punahou (8-0) a 3-1 lead just 38 seconds into the second quarter and, following a steal, helped set up Angi Giancaterino's goal for a 4-1 margin.
"We don't underestimate anyone," said Rigg. "Kam put up a good fight. Tonight was a good win for us and I'm excited.
"We work hard. We'd like to be known for working hard, not just for being Punahou."
As they had all season, the Buffanblu relied on their potent counter attack and fast breaks. Spearheading the defense were goalies Jessica Brooks and Rigg's younger sister Spencer.
"Our goalies share time equally and you never notice any letup when we switch," said Punahou coach Ken Smith. "Our strength is our defense and we work on that. Our defense fuels our offense.
"I'm a little surprised about this year. This is a young team and we graduated a lot of kids last year. But these girls from the first day of practice didn't let up."
Outlet passes from Brooks and Spencer Rigg keyed four fast-break goals. When the Buffanblu had time to set up, the go-to player was Crowell, who skipped in two of her five goals from the 3-meter mark past Warrior goalie Malia Chung.
Nagy sees the sport growing with the hope next year that there will be a state championship for girls water polo.
"I've been involved with water polo since the '70s," he said. "We've been waiting for state championship for a long time. Hopefully, it will happen next year."
In the third-place game, Iolani defeated Pac-Five 10-2.