Na Alii top Sabers for state berth
WAILUKU – The King Kekaulike High School girls basketball team got a pleasant surprise at just the right time.
Linzee Buwa came off the bench to score 16 points and Na Alii forced 27 turnovers behind a full-court press in a 63-33 victory over Maui High in the Maui Interscholastic League Division I second-place playoff game on Saturday at the Baldwin gym.
“I was ready to play every single quarter, every single second the coach puts me in,” said Buwa, a 6-foot sophomore.
King Kekaulike (9-5) will join league champion Lahainaluna in the D-I state tournament, which starts Feb. 7.
“To our school and our team it is very important,” said Na Alii coach Cy Peters. “That’s one of the goals we set early in the season. We wanted to get to the state tournament.”
King Kekaulike will be making its second state tournament appearance – the other came in 2011.
” I felt like my team could have made it all four years, but we didn’t,” said senior Brandi Carillo. “This year we made it because our team worked together.”
The teams had split their previous four meetings, with the Sabers winning a league tournament semifinal game Thursday.
This time around, King Kekaulike made adjustments to its defense.
“The first time we were denying, so we weren’t looking at the ball when it was getting passed in,” Carillo said. “This time we were looking at the ball, so once it came in we knew when to trap and when to go into the passing lanes.”
Maui High (7-8) committed 21 turnovers while taking only 17 field-goal attempts in the first half as King Kekaulike built a 35-21 advantage.
The Sabers went more than 10 minutes between made field goals during the first half.
“I thought we were prepared,” said Maui High coach Gilbert Silva. “I’m the head coach, I try to prepare the team the best I could. King K came out tonight and they put a lot of pressure on us and we had quite a lot of turnovers. They made their run and we couldn’t come back with our run.”
Na Alii started the second half on a 9-0 run to essentially put the game away. Brooks Carillo, Brandi’s younger sister, scored the first four points, Buwa hit a 3-pointer and Keiolani Falcum added a putback.
The lead reached 60-28 after a layup by Falcum off an assist from Dasya Tavares with 3:49 left in the game.
Maui High, playing its third game in three days, finished 10-of-42 from the field.
“When you are chasing because you are behind, you are kind of forcing shots and it’s not normal anymore,” Silva said.
Brooks Carillo, Karlee Peters and Sylvania Amor each added nine points for King Kekaulike, which went 23-of-52 from the field.
* Kyle Sakamoto is at email@example.com
KING KEKAULIKE (63)
Maile Naito 4, Brooks Carillo 9, Teeshawna Amor-Mashino 0, Dasya Tavares 3, Danielle Higashi 0, Brandi Carillo 7, Keiolani Falcum 6, Leah Cayaban 0, Karlee Peters 9, Sylvania Amor 9, Linzee Buwa 16.
MAUI HIGH (33)
Jasmine Cabajar 0, Liana Tanaka 13, Jordyn Vega 4, Tiare Real 0, Jamilyn Tamura 0, Gillen Llaneza 0, Kuulei Bailey 1, Jenicca Tamura 4, Nicole Pagan-Eldredge 3, Brittnie Suda-Molina 1, Emma Hanlon 7.