Lunas roll to 145th straight MIL win
PUKALANI — The Lahainaluna High School girls basketball team has been unbeatable in the Maui Interscholastic League for more than a decade’s worth of games.
Their closest competition the last two seasons has been Kamehameha Maui, but the Lunas’ domination continued in the final regular-season meeting between the two on Saturday at Kaulaheanuiokamoku Gym.
The Lunas (11-0) ran to their 145th MIL win in a row, 53-29. The Warriors (5-5) are now fighting for second place in the standings with the MIL tournament looming.
The game started physically until a head-to-head collision in the second quarter left two players on the floor. Lahainaluna’s Maalaea Kaneaiakala returned to the game quickly, while Kamehameha’s Ashley Taylor Peralta did not return to play.
“I think that really helps us just because we know teams out there aren’t going to take it easy on us, just how we won’t be non-physical with them,” said senior guard Rachael Balagso, who scored all six of her points in the first half for the Lunas. “That was an unfortunate accident and I wish the best for (Peralta).”
The Lunas dominated the first half, taking a 31-12 lead at the break. They scored the first eight points of the game before the Warriors closed within 8-5 on a Mikiala Sniffen 3-pointer with 3:27 left in the first quarter.
Lahainaluna stretched the lead to 15-7 at the end of the first quarter, and 24-8 on a three-point play by Susitina Namoa with 5:03 left in the first half.
Lahainaluna increased the lead to 39-12 on a jumper by Braeanna Estabillo with 4:55 to go in the third quarter. Brylee Carillo sank a 3-pointer for the Warriors with 3:01 to go in the third to cut the deficit to 39-16.
The Lunas have already clinched a state tournament berth.
“We’re progressing slowly — we do have a big freshman class but we have a big senior class as well,” Balagso said. “We just have to bring everybody along and keep everybody in check and work together as a team.”
Estabillo, the reigning MIL Division I Player of the Year, scored 16 points and Namoa added 12.
Angel Pauole completed a three-point play with 53 seconds left in the third quarter to bring the Warriors within 42-20.
At 5:01 in the second quarter, Kaneaiakala and Peralta collided under the Lunas’ basket while going for a loose ball.
Both players were down on the floor for a few minutes — Kaneaiakala walked off under her own power and soon returned to the game. Peralta remained on the floor before trainers helped her behind a large curtain in the gym. She returned to the floor at halftime with a bandage on her forehead and talked to a few well-wishers before leaving.
Kamehameha Maui head coach Victor Aguirre argued the play with officials, received two technical fouls and was ejected from the game.
“They are very tough, that’s why we have a hard time with them,” Kamehameha Maui assistant coach Danny Aguirre, Victor’s father, said. “Because we can’t handle that aggressiveness, I guess, especially if the referees ain’t going to call it. We have got to live with it.”
Lahainaluna coach Todd Rickard has guided the Lunas to four state final fours in a row and eight of the last nine.
“When that injury went happen, basically, they were calling things really tight,” Rickard said. “This game was what? Two hours long, 2 1/2? I’m not sure. They let us play in the beginning. I guess they have to protect the players, which is always good.”
Sniffen had eight points to lead the Warriors, who are fighting for seeding going into the MIL tournament with King Kekaulike (6-5) and Maui High (4-6).
“We’re going to work hard, we’re going to put this next work together to get ready for that tournament,” Danny Aguirre said.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com
Teani Buenconsejo 0, Rachael Balagso 6, Braeanna Estabillo 16, Keiko Aotaki 5, Kayjan Pahukoa 6, Maalaea Kaneaiakala 2, Erin Hookano 2, Kreyajan Pahukoa 0, Abigail Akamine 3, Tcleen Pahukoa 0, Tori Tihada 0, Sheilaika Agbayani 1, Teani Rickard 0, Susitina Namoa 12, Ashley Akamine 0.
KAMEHAMEHA MAUI (29)
Siena Poepoe 0, Kealia Sjostrand 0, Jamielee Felipe 0, Chasey Koomoa-Sidney 0, Brylee Carillo 4, Shaylisse Gregory 2, Tatiana Soon 0, Kayla Yamashita 0, Logan Spencer 2, Kimani Fernandez-Roy 2, Mikiala Sniffen 8, Kaylee Cambra 1, Ashley Taylor Peralta 3, Angel Pauole 7, Tatiana Martinez 0.
Lahainaluna 15 16 13 9–53
KS Maui 7 5 11 6–29
W L Pct GB
x-Lahainaluna 11 0 1.000 —
King Kekaulike 6 5 .545 5
Kamehameha Maui 5 5 .500 5-1⁄2
Maui High 4 6 .400 6-1⁄2
Baldwin 0 10 .000 10-1⁄2
W L Pct GB
x-Seabury Hall 7 1 .875 —
Molokai 2 4 .667 4
Lanai 1 5 .167 5
x-clinched regular-season championship
Molokai 34, Seabury Hall 31
Lahainaluna 53, Kamehameha Maui 29
King Kekaulike 65, Maui High 49
Maui High at Baldwin, 5:30 p.m.
Kamehameha Maui at King Kekaulike, 5:30 p.m.
Baldwin at Kamehameha Maui, 5:30 p.m.
Lahainaluna vs. Maui High at Lahaina Civic Center, 6 p.m.