Kaimukī captures DII title
• Photo gallery: Girls state basketball
By Stanley Lee
Advertiser Staff Writer
At the end of the game, Dejah Fa'asoa gave her player of the game plaque to teammate Pua Akaka. Without Akaka, Fa'asoa said Kaimukī wouldn't have won last night's state title.
On a small, tight-knit team where they consider each other as family, it was only the right thing to do when the Bulldogs espouse rising and falling together.
"Without her in the game, we probably would've lost," said Fa'asoa, who scored 20 points in second-seeded Kaimukī's 41-32 win over defending champion and No. 1 seed Moloka'i in last night's title game of the Hawaiian Airlines Division II Girls Basketball State Championships at the Blaisdell Arena.
Fa'asoa received the award issued by OC-16. "She did so well, she played really good defense. Without her, our defense wouldn't have worked."
Letishah Fa'asoa, Dejah's older sister, had 11 points for the Bulldogs (16-2), who came together over the course of the season. Coach Mona Fa'asoa, Letishah's and Dejah's mother, said her team, which had just eight active players last night, would frequently text message each other at night about the following day's practices or meals. Coach Fa'asoa said the texting was at times irritating, but it bonded the squad.
"The whole team is family, we base our whole team on if one falls, we all fall, if one rises, we all rise, if we win the champs, we're all champs," coach Fa'asoa said.
Kaimukī's tenacious defense shut down explosive point guard Danna-Lynn Hooper-Juario and post player Kalei Adolpho of Moloka'i (12-1). Akaka hounded Hooper-Juario, who had 33 points in Thursday's semifinal win over Kahuku, but had four last night. Adolpho, who has had double-doubles all season, had a quiet 12 points and 18 rebounds as the Bulldogs made sure she wasn't going to touch the ball, double-teaming and collapsing down low on her. Puna Kawamae added six points for the Farmers.
"We knew they were going to do that," said Moloka'i co-head coach Mike Hooper. "Baskets never fall, in the end, people had to step up and make baskets, couldn't rely on the same people all the time. We knew they were going to take the ball out of Danna's hand, double-team Kalei in the post and everybody going be open to make your basket."
Akaka said Hooper-Juario is a "good, good player" and she was just doing her job.
"I just had to do what I had to do — defense — because I'm not an offensive player," Akaka said. "They need me on defense and I'm going to do what I have to do."
Kawamae's basket put the Farmers up 28-27 to start the fourth quarter, but Dejah Fa'asoa hit a 3-pointer and Akaka made a 3 from the left corner in her only shot attempt of the game, to give Kaimukī a 33-28 lead with 6:28 left.
Kaimukī spread the floor on several occasions in the second half, which backfired when Moloka'i stole the ball. But the Farmers couldn't convert until Adolpho's putback with 33 seconds left.
"They did what they had to stop what we had," coach Hooper said. "I'm just hopping the island, the kids understand we did good things."
The state title was the third for Kaimukī post player Leti Mikaele, who is the two-time state discus champion. This one was more special because she did it with her family.
"Team," Mikaele said. "I'm not alone in this one."