Kaimukī girls capture OIA White title
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
MILILANI — Finishing off a week-long rally, Kaimukī came from behind again last night to defeat Kahuku, 58-52, for the O'ahu Interscholastic Association White Conference girls basketball championship.
The Bulldogs, who finished 13-2 in league play, earn the OIA's top seed and first-round bye in next week's Division II state tournament. The Red Raiders, who were aiming for their second straight title, fell to 12-3 and will begin state tournament play in Tuesday's first round.
To win the crown, Kaimukī had to scratch its way back from the loser's bracket of the modified double-elimination tournament and win three games this week, including two over Kahuku in three days.
"Finally," said Bulldogs guard Dejah Fa'asoa, who finished with a game-high 26 points last night. "I'm so happy."
Kaimukī needed to stay in rally mode last night, after falling behind 33-23 on Hi'ilei Cummings' 3-pointer with 3:13 remaining in the third period. But a layup by Leti Mikaele 10 seconds later started a 13-4 run to finish the quarter and close it to 37-36 heading into the fourth.
"We went through a dry spell there where we couldn't score," Red Raiders coach Jr. Avei said. "But give (the Bulldogs) credit, hat's off to them. They got every loose ball."
Kaimukī took the lead for good on a jumper by Fa'asoa to make it 46-44 with 4:57 left in the game. Kahuku stayed close, with Joshlyn Noga's putback making the score 52-50 with 2:27 left, but Letishah Fa'asoa answered on a layup with 1:50 remaining and the Bulldogs sank four free throws down the stretch to hold off the Red Raiders.
"Our girls don't have a lot of skills, the majority of them don't have much experience in organized ball, but they have so much heart," Kaimukī coach Mona Fa'asoa said. "We talked about determination, about refusing to lose and leaving everything on the court. At halftime, I said if we're not diving for the loose ball, then we're not wanting it enough. We didn't want anybody leaving anything behind, or crying afterward because of what they should have done."
After finishing the regular season at 9-1 and earning the Eastern Division's No. 1 seed for the playoffs, the Bulldogs lost to Kahuku, 55-44, in the semifinal round — knocking them into the loser's bracket where they defeated Kaiser on Monday.
That earned them a rematch Thursday against Kahuku, which the Bulldogs won, 53-47, after outscoring the Red Raiders 16-9 in the fourth period. That forced last night's winner-take-all finale.
Dejah Fa'asoa said she and her teammates never felt like the odds were stacked against them.
"We didn't think of it that way," Fa'asoa said. "Our coaches just told us to play with confidence, play with our hearts."
Letishah Fa'asoa added 12 points for Kaimukī. Cummings led Kahuku with 18 points.
KAHUKU (12-3) 11 12 14 15—52
KAIMUKĪ (13-2) 11 8 17 22—58
KAHUKU — Fia Tailele-Latu 6, Kawelina Gilman 0, Hi'ilei Cummings 18, Malia Tonga 0, Jessica Falemalu 9, Temutisa Te'o 0, Rachel Tailele 9, Mata Tonga 0, Natallia Cravens 0, Joshlyn Noga 6, Uhi Naeole 2, 2. Totals 15 15-20 52.
Kaimukī — Pua Akaka 0, Tanya Villanueva 0, Cannie Aikau 3, Alison Bologa 7, Keana Paez 2, Letishah Fa'asoa 12, Dejah Fa'asoa 26, Leti Mikaele 8. Totals 19 17-32 58.
3-point goals — Kahuku 7 (Falemalu 3, Cummings 2, Tailele-Latu, Tailele); Kaimukī (L. Fa'asoa 2, Bologa).
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