Farmers top Pine Lasses for league championship
WAILUKU – The Molokai High School girls basketball team didn’t lose a senior leader when Shaniah Mollena-Lopez suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this year. The Farmers gained three more.
Taylor Keliihoomalu, Tiara English and Ilana Meyer all stepped into the void left when Mollena-Lopez, the best shooter on the team, was sent to the sideline.
On Friday, with Mollena-Lopez rooting from the bench, that trio of seniors led Molokai to a convincing 65-37 victory over Lanai in the Maui Interscholastic League Division II tournament final at the Baldwin gym, clinching the MIL’s lone state tournament berth.
“This is a fun team to watch because we get contributions from everybody,” said Farmers coach Lee DeRouin.
English scored 20 points, Meyer added 17 and Keliihoomalu – an MIL volleyball All-Star – had three points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals.
“Taylor from volleyball to basketball, we wanted her to rebound, spot up 3s, play hard defense – she understands her role,” DeRouin said. “When Shaniah got hurt we had to re-do roles and they all did a great job of understanding their roles. Tiara English, Ilana Meyer and Shaniah, who comes to every practice, are still the leaders of our team.”
The Farmers (13-1) broke away from a 12-12 tie at the end of the first quarter behind English, who scored the first nine points of the second quarter. Keliihoomalu stretched the advantage to 24-12 on her only basket of the game, a 3-pointer. The lead grew to 27-14, and Molokai led 31-22 at halftime before coasting home against a tired Lanai team that relied on just seven players for most of the game.
“Our plan was to drive hard the whole game,” English said.
The Farmers’ only MIL loss this season was to the Pine Lasses earlier this month.
DeRouin said that game “gave us a wake-up call. The girls really moved forward since last Friday on Lanai.”
Molokai is in the state tournament for the second straight season, and sixth time in seven years – a stretch that includes the 2009 title.
“We just wanted to put our year up on that banner at school to show them,” Meyer said.
Lanai (5-9) loses only two seniors – Dezsiree Dameg, who had 16 points, and Sheila Gani, who is injured.
“The girls had a tough stretch, they have never been in a situation like this,” said Pine Lasses assistant coach Christian Yumol. “We try to prepare them every week to just gut it out, but we just fell a little bit short. It’s an awesome experience for our girls, we are headed in a positive direction.”
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Dezsiree Dameg 16, Tatiana Figuerres 2, Cherie Malacas 4, Claire Vila 0, Tyana Saberano Foster 4, Kristen Elan 3, Caroline Stuck 0, Maile Herolaga 8, Kristel Tubera 0.
Taylor Keliihoomalu 3, Tiara English 20, Precious Rawlins 1, Jamaica Bumatay 0, Hepuakea Falealii 8, Tiera-Lee Bishaw Marquez 2, Kristione Aquino 2, Kori-Lee DeRouin 0, Ilana Meyer 17, Rebecka Adolpho 0, Lehiwa Pedro 8, Edel Mae Alvarez 0, Kelcyn Balbas 4.