Kamehiro, Camara propel Falcons past St. Francis, 59-45
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By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Kyle Sakamoto
Darold Imanaka has turned the Kalani girls basketball program around, but he'll be the last one to take credit.
Megan Kamehiro scored 16 points, and Mana Camara scored 13 of her 15 points in the first half as Kalani beat St. Francis, 59-45, last night in a semifinal of the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Girls Division II Basketball Championships at McKinley.
"Kalani High School before I came was Kalani," said Imanaka, in his second year as head coach. "But with the parents' support it's turned the program around. It's not me because I keep telling everybody I never made one layup, one free throw. I never made one steal or rebound. I have great kids and a great staff."
Kalani, the O'ahu Interscholastic Association White Conference champion and No. 1 seed, will play Kamehameha-Hawai'i game for the title tonight at 8.
"This was our goal the whole year," said Kamehiro, a junior guard. "Our coach always reminded us we wanted to get to the states. Last year, we got to the states, but this year we want to win it."
The Falcons played an uptempo style against St. Francis to force numerous turnovers and get transition baskets.
"We're small, we have to push the ball," Kamehiro said. "We don't really have a choice on that."
The key run in the game was a 12-2 spurt over the final 2:05 of the first half, which put Kalani up 30-19. Camara scored nine points during the run, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
"Mana is coming up big. She's doing a tremendous job," Imanaka said.
Kalani (14-1) appeared to be in trouble when Camara picked up her fourth foul midway through the third period, but guard Chloe Martin picked up the slack by scoring 10 points over the final 11:30.
"Chloe has come up big," Imanaka said. "She's been shooting the ball well."
The closest St. Francis (16-3) got in the second half was 45-36 after a field goal by Kanani Perry with 6:02 left in the game.
Kalani didn't make any field goals in the fourth period, but sank 16 of 24 free-throw attempts to keep the Troubadours at bay.
St. Francis senior center Siutiti Takai scored 15 points in the first half, but only three in the second. She picked up her third foul early in the third period and her fourth late in the period.
"We tried to get Titi more involved, but she kind of ran out of gas a little bit," St. Francis coach Paul Tanaka said. "But credit Kalani, they're an awesome team; very well coached, very disciplined."
Reach Kyle Sakamoto at email@example.com.