Rough Riders grind out 40-33 victory over Honoka'a
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By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Leila Wai
Unflinching and unchanging, Roosevelt coach Bobby Keanini put his trust in his players and they came through for him.
The Rough Riders advanced to the title game for the first time after defeating Honoka'a, 40-33, last night in the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships at the University of Hawai'i's Stan Sheriff Center.
Roosevelt, the O'ahu Interscholastic Association champion and second seed, plays Punahou tonight at 8. Honoka'a, the Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion and third seed, plays Konawaena at 6 for third place.
After leading by as much as seven in the second quarter, Roosevelt relinquished its lead briefly in the third, but Keanini said he trusted his players and let them continue to play the way they had all season.
"It's fun to watch them run up and down," Keanini said. "I'm not going to change the way I feel, I trust them to do a lot of things. Sometimes they look at me and think I'm going to make a change."
Both teams struggled; Roosevelt with turnovers (25) and free throws (19 of 35).
"Our game is to run, and we'll keep doing it," Keanini said. "We're not going to slow it down just because. We'll stick to our game plan. Usually we're a pretty good ball control team."
Roosevelt sophomore guard Iwalani Rodrigues, who scored 12 points and had 12 rebounds, said: "Their defense is good, so we had to play basketball like how we play it ... hard and fast."
Keanini pointed to the magnitude of last night's game — the first semifinal appearance by Roosevelt since the early 1980s — and Honoka'a's defense as contributors to his team's high-turnover rate.
"We preach defense, and usually when our defense is tough, our offense gets going," said Honoka'a coach Daphne Honma, whose Dragons were held to 13 of 51 (25.5 percent) shooting.
"We had a lot of good looks," she said. "We couldn't buy a bucket."
It took a few minutes for both teams to get started, with the first point on a free throw by Honoka'a junior guard Keisha Kanekoa at 4:31. Prior to that, the teams combined for seven turnovers, four by Roosevelt.
Honoka'a led 4-2, with all points coming from Kanekoa. Roosevelt outscored the Dragons 8-1 in the final two minutes of the quarter, led by three points apiece by senior forward Tati Beasley and sophomore guard Tiana Sugui.
"We looked at each other and knew we had to settle down," said Beasley, who finished with 12 points. "Either we could go home crying or play better."
The Rough Riders led by as much as 15-8, but Honoka'a climbed back into the game with a 3-pointer by junior guard Jessika Lorenzo and a three-point play by senior forward Whitney Acdal to make it 17-14 at the half.
Honoka'a took a 22-21 lead on a basket by Acdal with 2:13 remaining in the third quarter. The Dragons closed the gap on three baskets by Kanekoa, who was shooting 1 for 12 before then. Kanekoa finished with 10 points.
Senior forward Shannon Miyashiro scored to give the Rough Riders the lead for good with 1:59 remaining in the third quarter, although the Dragons did come within one twice in the fourth quarter, the last at 29-28 with 5:56 to play.
Reach Leila Wai at firstname.lastname@example.org.