[ DIVISION I BASKETBALL ]
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Konawaena's Jazzmin Williams tried to grab a rebound in front of Kahuku's Mona Ale, left, and Aisha Ale last night.
Hoist comes through
The crisp passing, balanced scoring and smothering matchup zone defense of the first half was a thing of the past, gone like yesterday's breeze.
Almost any reason for confidence had evaporated along with the 20-point halftime lead.
There was one thing Konawaena could still do, though. There was one weapon the Wildcats knew they could depend upon.
MVP: Nancy Hoist, Konawaena
» Jazzmin Williams, Konawaena
» Latoya Wily, Kahuku
» Karla Tailele, Kahuku
» Kami Kapaku, Baldwin
» Shanna-Lei Dacanay, Punahou
Nancy Hoist at the foul line.
Hoist wasn't perfect, not like she was last year when she made 20 of 20 free throws in the state tournament.
But last night the pride of Kona was more than good enough to carry the Wildcats to a 51-41 victory over Kahuku at the Stan Sheriff Center for the school's first basketball state title.
With time running out and Kahuku getting stronger and closer by the second, it was time for Hoist to take over the game. With less than three minutes left and the Wildcats holding a 40-37 lead, coach Bobbie Awa put everything -- the game, the season, the school's basketball reputation -- all into her star center's soft and strong hands.
"We had to bring Latoya (Kahuku star center Wily) out, and she wasn't going to come out on her own," Awa said. "And we had to get Nancy to the line."
Hoist brought the ball up court, and her deft dribbling forced Kahuku to foul her. Hoist made six free throws down the stretch to ice the win. The senior didn't let a rare miss in the third quarter bother her.
"You've just got to get into the flow of the game," Hoist said.
It took Kahuku an entire half to do that. The Red Raiders trailed 30-10 at the break, but were energized by point guard Karla Tailele, whose presence in the second half, despite a sprained ankle, helped get Kahuku going.
"Their guard deserves a lot of credit," Awa said. "When she came in, hurt and all, she sparked them."
Awa said she feared a Kahuku comeback even with the big lead at halftime. The Red Raiders beat the Wildcats last year, coming from behind and taking it in double-overtime.
But when it mattered most last night, Hoist made the game her own and the championship Kona's.
"Our coaches told us foul her, but it kind of put us in a bind because we were in foul trouble already," said Wily, who was game-high with 21 points. "That was a smart thing for (Konawaena) to do."
Wildcats freshman forward Jazzmin Williams (10 points) said the Wildcats will do their best to defend their state championship without Hoist next year.
"We were nervous when we lost that big lead," Williams said. "But we knew we could give the ball to Nancy and tell her, 'You take the ball, you can make the free throws.'"