Kaimukī forces rematch with Kahuku
• Photo gallery: Kahuku vs. Kaimuki girls' basketball
By Kyle Sakamoto
Advertiser Staff Writer
MILILANI — The Kaimukī girls basketball team rode a rather unconventional combination to victory over Kahuku last night: a defensive strategy learned the previous day and a freshman "park rat" still "learning the structured game of basketball."
Kaimukī forced 26 turnovers out of a 1-3-1 defense and reserve Alison Pologa scored 20 points in a 53-47 victory over Kahuku in the O'ahu Interscholastic Association White Conference tournament at Mililani.
Kaimukī, the East champion, and Kahuku, the East runner-up, will play again tomorrow at 6 p.m. in a winner-take-all final at Mililani. Both teams are 12-2.
Kaimukī coach Mona Fa'asoa said she employed the 1-3-1 zone defense last night to match up better with the Red Raiders, who initiate their offense out of a 1-3-1 look.
Fa'asoa's Bulldogs didn't have long to learn the new defense.
"We learned a different defense yesterday to counter their offense," Fa'asoa said. "That was very effective tonight. Of course, we'll need something different because we have them again on Saturday. It's almost like a chess match."
Kaimukī got separation with a 7-0 run that put the Bulldogs ahead 46-40 with 4:01 remaining. Dejah Fa'asoa scored the first four points of the rally, and Letishah Fa'asoa had the final three. They are daughters of the head coach.
"In the fourth quarter, we really needed someone to step up. It didn't matter who. She kind of took it into her own hands," Mona Fa'asoa said of Dejah, who finished with 14 points.
Pologa scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers, during an 18-4 run to end the first period. The surge gave Kaimukī its largest lead at 22-11.
"I just play my game; confidence that's all," Pologa said.
Added Mona Fa'asoa: "Alison is a very young player. When she grows into a better basketball player, she'll be unstoppable. She is just learning the structured game of basketball. She is more of a park rat."
Pologa's field goal gave Kaimukī a 26-17 lead with 6:08 left before halftime, but it would be the Bulldogs' final bucket of the half.
The Red Raiders closed the half with an 11-1 run with Joshlyn Noga scoring the first six points and Jessica Falemalu getting the final five. Falemalu's basket with 10 seconds remaining gave Kahuku a 28-27 advantage.
There were six lead changes and three ties over the first nine minutes of the second half.
Kahuku starting guard Hi'ilei Cummings went to the bench after picking up her fourth foul with 5:36 left in the third. She re-entered with 5:22 left in the fourth and quickly fouled out.
"It was huge because defensively, our defensive rotations, she's our senior," said Kahuku coach Junior Avei. "We need to keep her out of foul trouble and get our bench to play better as well."
Noga scored 14 points and Falemalu added 13 for Kahuku, which applied full-court pressure and forced 22 turnovers.
Kaimukī was 17 of 43 from the field; Kahuku was 16 of 61.
Kaimukī, Kahuku and East No. 3 Kaiser have already qualified for next week's Hawaiian Airlines Division II State Championships.
KAHUKU (12-2) 11 17 10 9—47
KAIMUKĪ (12-2) 22 5 10 16—53
KAHUKU — Fia Tailele-Latu 7, Kawelina Gilman 0, Hi'ilei Cummings 3, Malia Tonga 2, Jessica Falemalu 13, Temutisa Te'o 0, Rachel Tailele 2, Mata Tonga 0, Natallia Cravens 4, Joshlyn Noga 14, Uhi Naeole 2, Amanda Tonga 0. Totals 16 10-16 47.
Kaimukī — Pua Akaka 2, Tanya Villanueva 0, Canny Akau 0, Alison Pologa 20, Keana Paez 2, Letishah Fa'asoa 5, Dejah Fa'asoa 14, Leti Mikaele 10. Totals 17 17-31 53.
3-point goals — Kaimukī 2 (Pologa 2). Kahuku 5 (Falemalu 3, Tailele-Latu 1, Cummings 1).