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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Richardson can't hide the hurt following defeat

 •  'Aiea topples Kalaheo for state basketball title

By Stephen Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

As time slipped away — on a season, on a last chance — Kalaheo High basketball player Brandy Richardson collapsed to the court in an exhausted heap.

After she scored 41 points against them last week, there was no way the ‘Aiea High players would allow Brandy Richardson to repeat the feat last night. Here, the Kalaheo star draws four defenders.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

Soon, teammate Heather Gonsalves tried to offer comfort before also slumping from the weight of the emotion.

And, once again, Richardson, the state's best female prep basketball player, was left to taste the salt of her tears as she exited empty-handed from her final state tournament. Last night's loss to 'Aiea was the Mustangs' third red-ribbon finish in the last four years. They were third in 1999.

"We worked hard and we wanted a win in the worst way and ..." said Richardson, her voice dissolving into a whisper.

Kalaheo coach Chico Furtado believed the outcome would be different. Kalaheo had beaten 'Aiea by 16 points in last week's O'ahu Interscholastic Association title game, with the 5-foot-10 Richardson scoring 41.

Richardson, who returned for her senior season after moving to the Mainland briefly last year, had worked on improving skills that earned her consecutive state Player of the Year awards. She launched jumpers with an easy delivery; her triceps were Linda Hamilton's.

"There's no doubt," Furtado said, "she's had a great career."

But last night, 'Aiea had a better game. Richardson was tailed from end line to end line as she brought the ball upcourt. 'Aiea's circle-flex offense was designed to both milk the clock and keep Kalaheo's defense from resting.

Furtado does not know how much the tactics drained his team's energy. Early in the fourth quarter, with timeouts to burn, Furtado asked Richardson if she needed a break. She declined. Then Richardson buried the go-ahead free throw.

But the Mustangs could not contain both 'Aiea's interior offense and perimeter gun-slinging. Never in the bonus in either half, the Mustangs could not use free throws as weapons.

"It's frustrating, but that's the way it goes," Furtado said.

Richardson finished with 16 points, but that was nearly enough. "I feel disappointed," she said. "I missed some big free throws. I should have finished some three-point plays. But it's too late to dwell on it."

Then she said, "I don't regret coming back. I wanted to finish up my last year with Chico. The only regret is not leaving with a state title. But sometimes in life, things don't go your way. Someone has to come out a winner, someone has to come out a loser."

Furtado has lived on one side for too long. "I feel bad for our kids, I feel bad for our program," he said. "I think we're a top-notch program, but until we win that one, people are going to feel we can't get over the hump. It's frustrating, but it doesn't take away from the career (Richardson has) had and it doesn't take away from the season we've had."

Soon after, Furtado embraced another player.

"I'll live," he said. "I'll go back to work and coach again. But seeing these kids struggle with this is kind of heartbreaking. But that's part of competitive sports."