Lahainaluna wins state girls D-I basketball title
Lahainaluna became the first Maui Interscholastic League team to win a Hawaiian Airlines Girls Basketball Championship tonight, rallying past and then holding off defending champ Konawaena, 47-45, in a thriller before a vocal crowd of about 2,300 at Blaisdell Arena.
The Lunas, believed to be the first Lahainaluna team to win a Division I state title in any sport, finished the regular and postseason at 17-0.
“This is big for the program, big for the school, big for the community, big for our island,” said Lunas coach Todd Rickard, who graduated from Lahainaluna in 1985 and has been coaching there for the past 15 years. “Look around and see all the people in red shirts who came out to support us ... We were hoping we wouldn’t disappoint them, and we didn’t.”
Konawaena (12-1) had won its first two state tournament games in 30-point routs and looked to be in control last night, leading 22-15 at halftime and 37-26 with a minute remaining in the third period. But Milika Taufa, the Lunas’ 6-foot-3 senior post, answered with a layup and then scored seven straight points early in the fourth quarter to help Lahainaluna tie it at 37-37 with 5:38 left in the game.
Taufa, who finished with 26 points, later scored six straight to put the Lunas ahead, 46-39, with 1:51 remaining.
Anuhea Wall, who had 21 points, scored on back-to-back layups to close it to 46-45 with 1:10 left, but Konawaena turned the ball over with 17 seconds remaining on a pass that skipped out of bounds.
Lahainaluna point guard Maiki Viela then sank one of two free throws with eight seconds left to make it 47-45, and Wildcats guard Lia Galdeira was fouled on the dribble near her own baseline with two ticks left. But since it was only the Lunas’ third team foul, Konawaena had to take the ball out of bounds, and an entry pass was fumbled and lost under the basket as time expired.