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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, May 16, 2003

Red Raiders rally past Moanalua

By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer

After a frantic finish before 1,607 screaming fans, the Kahuku High School girls basketball team rallied past No. 2 seed Moanalua, 42-39, last night to land its first spot in the state championship final since 1985.

Kahuku's Latoya Wily goes toward the basket while being defended by Moanalua's Ronni Keliihoomalu, right, and Marleen Leautu. Kahuku beat Moanalua, 42-39, to advance to the state final.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The Red Raiders (14-2) will play No. 1 seed Punahou (16-0) in tonight's title game at the University of Hawai'i's Stan Sheriff Center.

Kahuku trailed 21-13 at halftime and 31-27 early in the fourth period, but rallied behind intense full-court pressure and a timely performance by senior Tuli Peters, The Advertiser's reigning State Player of the Year in volleyball. Peters broke the pinkie on her right (shooting) hand and missed six weeks of the season and has played only sparingly since.

But last night Peters scored 10 points off the bench, including eight in the second half. Teammate Mona Ale, another standout volleyball player on the Red Raiders' state champion volleyball team, added a team-high 11 points, including seven in the second half.

"I had no doubt, I knew we could come back and get back into the game," Ale said. "Our motto is 'One heart, one team,' and that's how we pulled it out."

Kahuku had lost to Moanalua, 49-44, in a regular-season meeting, and it looked as if the O'ahu Interscholastic Association champion Menehunes (14-1) would take control again after grabbing a 21-13 halftime lead.

"We still wanted to attack the basket; we weren't about to pull it out," Moanalua coach Roy Dias said. "A couple of girls turned it over at crucial times, but Kahuku played risky and real physical and they just got a piece of the ball."

Moanalua had taken a 31-27 lead early in the fourth period on a layup by Marleen Leautu and Amy Kotani's baseline jumper, but Kahuku went on a 6-1 run to take the lead back at 33-32 on Ale's layup. Peters then hit a layup to put the Red Raiders up 35-32.

The Menehunes took the lead back at 36-35 after four free throws by Patti Hardimon, but Karla Tailele's two free throws put Kahuku back on top 37-36, and Latoya Wily's free throw made it 38-36 with 1:02 remaining.

Ale's layup with 25 seconds left put the Red Raiders up 40-36, and after two missed free throws by Moanalua, Tailele made a free throw to make it 41-36 nine seconds later. Hardimon then sank a 3-pointer with eight ticks left.

Kahuku rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to take a 27-26 lead with a minute remaining in the third period. Marleen Leautu's free throw tied it at 27 entering the fourth.

Moanalua had opened up a 24-14 lead early in the third period on Kotani's 3-pointer, but the Red Raiders responded with an 8-1 run to close it to 25-22 on Wily's putback. Leautu made it 26-22 on a free throw with 2:28 remaining, but Peters scored a layup to make it 26-24 and a free throw by Artevia Wily cut it to 26-25 with 1:45 left. Artevia Wily then hit a jumper with a minute remaining to give Kahuku its first lead since the game's opening minutes.

Turnovers — a curse for Kahuku all season — plagued the Red Raiders again in the first half. Kahuku had tied the score at 4 in the opening minutes, but Moanalua went on a 10-0 run overlapping the first and second periods and took a 14-4 lead on Kepua Lee's 3-pointer.

The Red Raiders finally broke the string with Ale's putback with 4:40 remaining in the half, but that was Kahuku's first points in more than eight minutes.

The Menehunes pushed the lead to 18-6 on Kotani's jumper with four minutes left, but the Red Raiders got a putback by Peters, a 3-pointer by Lesina Funaki and a layup by Tailele to close it to 18-13.

Leautu made a free throw with 16 seconds remaining and two more free throws by Kotani to take a 21-13 lead into intermission.

Lee and Kotani each had eight points in the first half.

Latoya Wily, who had 19 points in Tuesday's first-round victory over Kamehameha and 20 points in Wednesday's quarterfinal win over Konawaena, finished with nine points and 17 rebounds. Kahuku outrebounded Moanalua, 37-25, and forced 24 Moanalua turnovers.

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