Top seed Kalani rolls to semifinals
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By Stacy Kaneshiro
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Stacy Kaneshiro
Pesky and vertically challenged Kalani simply swarmed all over a taller Word of Life squad in a 64-41 quarterfinal win in the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Division II Girls Basketball State Championships last night at McKinley.
The top-seeded Falcons (13-1) will play Saint Francis (15-2) in a 6 p.m. semifinal today.
Nicole Isemoto and Violet Alama led the Falcons with 13 points apiece, while WOL's Careena Onosai paced everyone with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
"We don't match up well with (the 5-foot-11 Onosai)," Kalani coach Darold Imanaka said. "She's big and strong. Luckily, they pulled her out away from the basket (at times), so that gave us an advantage. I told the kids they had to put pressure all the way through."
The Firebrands (11-6) led 12-11 after the first quarter, but failed to make a field goal in the second, when the Falcons outscored them, 22-6, to take a commanding 33-18 lead into the half. The Firebrands went nearly 13 minutes without a field goal before Piilani Mahoe's third-quarter 3-pointer.
"I was kind of scared of them," admitted Isemoto. "They're bigger than us, but they didn't have the speed we had."
Despite the height advantage, WOL had only four more rebounds than the Falcons — 36-32.
SAINT FRANCIS 64, SEABURY HALL 43
After sputtering out of the blocks, Saint Francis turned its game up a notch with a combined 44 points in the second and third quarters to turn back fourth-seeded Seabury Hall in a quarterfinal game.
The Maui Interscholastic League champion Spartans stormed to a 13-8 lead after the first quarter behind nine points from 5-foot-11 forward Korene Burgio. The Spartans opened the second quarter with a basket to make it 15-8 before the Troubadours woke up, following with a 10-0 run and never looking back.
"A lot had to do with their finals, and the seniors missed graduation practice, so our heads weren't where they were supposed to be," Saint Francis coach Paul Tanaka said. "But we woke up. We recovered."
Leading the recovery was senior guard Kanani Perry, who drained two of her three 3-pointers in the Troubadours' 23-point second quarter. She led the Troubadours (16-2) with 15 points.
"We pushed it and we hustled," Perry said of the team's second-quarter turnaround.
Sophomore Nicole Perry added 10 points for Saint Francis, while Bryanna Batts led her team with seven rebounds.
Burgio and Tiana Barbier led the Spartans (11-2) with 12 points each. Yaacine Meyer had 11 rebounds and Burgio 10.
KAMEHAMEHA-HAWAI'I 54, CASTLE 42
Defending champion and second-seeded Kamehameha-Hawai'i went long distance to hold off Castle in a quarterfinal game.
The Warriors (11-3) sank seven 3-pointers, six in the first half, and held double-digit leads most of the game.
Leilani Galdones led the way with 19 points, and Jamie Mattos and Lisa Yang each chipped in 14. Galdones had three 3-pointers and Yang had four.
"We're a strong 3-point shooting team," Kamehameha-Hawai'i coach Kimo Miller said. "If the girls feel it, they have the green light to shoot it."
The Warriors opened the game with a 3-pointer from Yang, who had three 3s in the first quarter to propel her team to a 16-4 lead.
The Knights (10-5) closed to 22-17 in the second quarter, but Galdones drained two 3s in the final 84 seconds of the quarter to give the Warriors a 28-17 lead at the half.
Castle trailed 39-26 after three quarters, but went on a 9-0 run to open the fourth quarter and close to 39-35 in the first two minutes. The Warriors found their composure to hold off the hard-charging Knights.
"I was impressed with their discipline," Miller said of the Knights. "They didn't panic when we pressed. They were deliberate and broke it."
But the damage had already been done by the Warriors' 3-point shooting.
Shanyn Fafard-Ka'aihue led the Knights with 11 points and shared her team's rebound lead with Tihani Kekauoha with six. Kellsie Sasaki added 10 points for Castle.
Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at email@example.com.