Lahainaluna leaves with title


POSTED: Saturday, February 20, 2010

At Lahainaluna, there's no getting away from family and friends.

In fact, they will track and follow their Lunas across the ocean out of loyalty. That fact turned into motivation for the Lahainaluna Lady Lunas, who rallied from an 11-point deficit for a stunning 47-45 win over defending champion Konawaena last night in the final of the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Girls Basketball Division I State Championships.

The Lunas rallied from 11 down.

“;I told the girls, 'How badly do you want this?' It's surreal,”; Lahainaluna coach Todd Rickard said. “;It just proves that even if you're from the neighbor islands, if you put the work in required and training in the offseason, it can happen. It can really happen.”;

The win came with a tinge of controversy when Lia Galdeira's pull-up jumper to tie the game was ruled no good after a blocking foul. If the shot had counted, the game would have been tied at 47 with a free throw for the Wildcats sophomore.

Instead, Konawaena had the ball down 47-45 with 2 seconds left. An inbounds pass from under the basket from Dawnyelle Awa to Galdeira in the paint was deflected and caromed away as time expired.

Center Milika Taufa, sensing her last opportunity, brought the championship trophy home for the Lunas (26-2). The 6-foot senior poured in 26 points, including 21 in the second half, to lead Lahainaluna to its first girls hoops state crown.

It started with a stern halftime talk from Rickard with the Lunas down 22-15 to the top-seeded Wildcats.

“;In the locker room, he told us we had no pride and we looked like we were going to give up,”; the normally stoic Taufa said. “;He said we were disappointing our fans.”;

The fans — all 300 or so of them who made the trek to the state tourney — were an emotional factor in the comeback. Taufa, who struggled to get into top shape early in the season, showed the results of her labor. She sprinted up and down the floor after halftime, beating defenders to the low post and hustling after every missed shot. Of her nine rebounds, four were on the offensive glass, all for putbacks against the quicker, but smaller Wildcats.

“;I just wanted to pick it up,”; she said. “;To me, we have the best support ever from our fans. I know when we get to the airport, they're going to be there cheering for us. At school, everybody was texting us to win.”;

Down 34-23 midway through the third quarter, the Lunas went on a 17-3 run, sparked by Taufa's eight points. While Konawaena missed perimeter shots and turned the ball over, the Lady Lunas attacked the man-to-man defense and went ahead 40-37 on Ana-Marie Lauese's three-point play with 5:04 left.

Taufa scored the next six points, all inside, as her team opened the lead to 46-39 with 1:52 remaining.

Konawaena's fullcourt press triggered a 6-0 run, getting back-to-back buckets from Anuhea Wall. A steal by Wall on a lob pass to Taufa got the Wildcats a chance to take the lead, but Awa's pass down low went out of bounds with 17 seconds left.

Viela hit a free throw with 8.2 seconds left to give the Lunas a 47-45 lead.

She missed the second shot, and Wall took the rebound and dribbled to midcourt as coach Bobbie Awa called a time out.

The loss was Konawaena's first after 45 consecutive wins over island teams.



LUNAS (17-0, 3-0 HHSAA)

WILDCATS (12-1, 2-1 HHSAA)

Awa, D.2-62-23374432
Awa, M.1-61-2313119
TEAM  4    

Key — fg-a: field goals made-attempted; ft-a: free throws made-attempted; rb: rebounds; pf: personal fouls; pts: total points; a: assists; to: turnovers; min: minutes played.
Halftime — Konawaena 22, Lahainaluna 15
3-point goals — Lahainaluna 3-9 (Viela 2-6, Akima 1-2, Bacalso 0-1), Konawaena 1-10 (Awa, D. 1-4, Liftee 0-1, Awa, M. 0-1, Hanato-Smith 0-2, Galdeira 0-2).
Steals — Lahainaluna 8 (Akima 4, Viela 2, Taufa, Bacalso), Konawaena 12 (Wall 5, Awa, D. 3, Hanato-Smith, Galdeira, U'ulopa, Awa, M.). Blocked shots — Lahainaluna 5 (Taufa 5), Konawaena none.
Officials — Lisa Mann, Amber Lee, Kii Spencer.