Buffanblu deny Lunas
HONOLULU – Lahainaluna High School’s dreams of a second girls basketball state championship were essentially dashed in the first half of Saturday’s title game.
The Lunas trailed by as many as 24 points in the second quarter en route to a 60-48 loss to Punahou in the Hawaiian Airlines Division I State Championship final at the Neal Blaisdell Center.
“You cannot spot nobody a 24-point lead in a state championship tournament and expect to come out on top,” Lahainaluna coach Todd Rickard said. “Our girls battled back and tried but they just didn’t have enough energy to get through it. I give credit to Punahou, they played an excellent game and our girls did a good job this season so I’m overall pleased with the team.”
Tyra Moe scored 19 points for the Buffanblu (14-1), and Vae Malufau added 11.
Keleah-Aiko Kolia was the leading scorer for the top-seeded Lunas (16-1), with 11 points.
Lahainaluna trailed 13-9 at the end of the first quarter, but the deficit quickly grew. Punahou opened the second period on a 22-3 run, with the 6-foot Moe and the 5-foot-11 Malufau leading the way – Moe finished with 11 points in the first half, and Malufau had nine.
“They have a height advantage over us and we just had to have our bigs play in front of them and have our guards drop – but they just killed us,” said Lahainaluna’s Loke Basques.
The Lunas rallied to trail 39-25 at halftime, but it was not enough.
“We came out flat in the beginning and we just put ourselves in a hole but we had to dig deep and keep fighting,” said Lahainaluna’s Lindsay Bates. “We just had bad turnovers but we had to keep playing hard till the end.”
Lahainaluna surged back in the fourth quarter – the rally began with a 3-pointer by Aloha Salem with six minutes remaining. Another 3-pointer by Salem made the score 51-45, and a free throw by Koloi reduced the deficit to five, but the Lunas got no closer.
“We were trying to push the ball and dig ourselves out of the hole we put ourselves in,” Basques said. “I guess (our shot) just wasn’t falling and it was a little nerve-wracking for some of us.”
Basques, the lone senior on the team, said the championship setting made “the game feel really fast,” but that the team eventually settled in.
“There’s no excuses,” Rickard said. “Punahou beat us, bottom line. There could have been adjustments but we just started off slow.”
The Lunas had won a preseason game with the Buffanblu in November.
“Like any other sport winning a state championship is big, especially playing a team like Lahainaluna who’s such a great competitive team and they’re tough,” said Punahou coach Kevin Velasco. “But I’m really proud of our kids in what they accomplished this year and hats off to Lahainaluna for all of their hard work to get here.”
* Chris Sugidono is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Keaupono Fey 6, Elle Uyeda 9, Hailey Motooka 5, Tyra Moe 19, Kamiale Kandiah 8, Vae Malufau 11, Kaitlyn Waki 0, Samantha Alakai 1, Abigail Aplaca 1.
Fiemea Hafoka 5, Taylor Bates 0, Keleah-Aiko Koloi 11, Lindsay Bates 5, Folau Hafoka 8, Mina Faaumu 0, Loke Basques 6, Cameron Fernandez 7, Aloha Salem 6.