Lunas down Warriors for 14th straight MIL crown
Lahainaluna posts 148th league win in a row with 50-28 victory in tournament final
KAHULUI — Ten years plus eight.
The Lahainaluna High School girls basketball team rang up its 148th straight Maui Interscholastic League Division I win in a row, 50-28 over Kamehameha Maui in the MIL tournament final at Shine Matsui Athletic Center on Tuesday night, nailing down a 14th straight league crown in the process.
The winning streak spans 10 unbeaten seasons, plus eight more victories.
The Lunas (14-0) have a class of seven seniors — Sheilaika Agbayani, Rachael Balagso, Braeanna Estabillo, Keiko Aotaki, Kayjan Pahukoa, Maalaea Kaneaiaakala and Tori Tihada — who finished 56-0 in their MIL careers with yet another convincing victory.
“Oh man, this class, this is the class to remember,” said Susitina Namoa, a junior who is the only non-senior starter for the Lunas. “They’re my favorite, they’re all my sons. Man, this class, you’ll never find another class like this — I promise you that.”
Lahainaluna coach Todd Rickard smiled as he watched his team receive their gold medals — he has guided the Lunas to eight of the last nine state final fours.
“Every time we go there, we like our chances,” Rickard said. “That’s what we play for, that’s what we try and shoot for, is to get to the final four once again — once you get there anything can happen.”
This group of seniors will not be soon forgotten.
“Man, this class is unbelievable,” Rickard said. “I mean you cannot say enough about them. Look at them, look at the size of them. I mean, they’re small, but everything they play with — they play with their heart.”
Now, a state title is the goal. Lahainaluna will open as a seeded league champion in the Snapple Hawaii State Championships on Thursday on Oahu.
“Yes, of course, for every championship team, whatever happens you always think you can win it,” said Namoa, who finished with 14 points. “It’s always a great game against Kamehameha — everybody knows that, we know that, the coaches know that. It always great competition to get us ready before we leave.”
Namoa, a 5-foot-8 forward, battled inside all night against Kamehameha bigs Kimani Fernandez-Roy and Angel Pauole.
“It’s a great competition and it also gets me ready because I’m one of the smaller bigs in the state,” Namoa said. “Kimani, she’s a really big, physical player, so it’s always great playing someone who’s that strong because you’re never going to find somebody like that.”
The Lunas opened a 13-2 lead after a 6-0 run that included four points from Namoa. A long 3-pointer by Estabillo and a drive through the lane by Balagso to beat the buzzer made it 18-6 at the end of the first quarter.
A jumper by Namoa and a 3-pointer by Estabillo to open the second quarter pushed the lead to 23-6. A 3-pointer by Pahukoa followed by two Namoa free throws made it 30-10.
After the Warriors pulled within 33-19, Namoa scored inside off a nifty pass from Kaneaiakala. Kaneaiakala sank a runner down the lane with 1:09 left in the third quarter to increase the lead to 37-21 — moments later Aotaki swished home a 3-pointer after a steal to give the Lunas a 40-21 advantage.
Aotaki made another trey at the third-quarter buzzer after a pass from Balagso to make it 43-21 going to the fourth quarter — the Warriors did not get closer than 19 the rest of the way.
Ashley Taylor Peralta led Kamehameha Maui (8-6) with 12 points.
“They came ready to play,” Warriors coach Victor Aguirre said. “We thought we came ready to play, but obviously we weren’t ready. We turned the ball over, we gave in to the pressure.”
Kamehameha Maui will host a state tournament first-round game Monday against a team yet to be determined.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com.
KAMEHAMEHA MAUI (28)
Siena Poepoe 0, Kealia Sjostrand 0, Jamielee Felipe 0, Chasey Koomoa-Sidney 0, Brylee Carillo 2, Shaylisse Gregory 0, Tatiana Soon 0, Kayla Yamashita 0, Logan Spencer 0, Kimani Fernandez-Roy 5, Mikiala Sniffen 0, Kaylee Cambra 4, Ashley Taylor Peralta 12, Angel Pauole 5, Tatiana Martinez 0.
Teani Buenconsejo 0, Rachael Balagso 9, Braeanna Estabillo 6, Keiko Aotaki 9, Kayjan Pahukoa 5, Maalaea Kaneaiakala 4, Erin Hookano 0, Kreyajan Pahukoa 0, Abigail Akamine 0, Tcleen Pahukoa 0, Tori Tihada 3, Sheilaika Agbayani 0, Teani Rickard 0, Susitina Namoa 14, Ashley Akamine 0.
KS Maui 6 8 7 7–28
Lahainaluna 18 13 12 7–50
MIL Girls Basketball
DIVISION I TOURNAMENT
Lahainaluna 50, Kamehameha Maui 28
DIVISION II TOURNAMENT
Lanai vs. Molokai at Seabury Hall, 7 p.m.
Lanai-Molokai winner at Seabury Hall, 7 p.m.
Overall championship, if necessary
Lanai-Molokai winner at Seabury Hall, 10 a.m.