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Lunas capture top spot

Lahainaluna defeats King Kekaulike 48-30 to claim MIL D-I regular-season crown

Lahainaluna High School’s Kiera Kaniho shoots between King Kekaulike’s Kaila Purdy (from left), Cailyn Ukida and TC Pahukoa during the first quarter Thursday night. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photos

By ROBERT COLLIAS

Staff Writer

LAHAINA — The last time the King Kekaulike High School girls basketball team entered the Lahainaluna gym, they snapped the Lunas’ 164-game Maui Interscholastic League winning streak.

On Thursday night, the Lunas took a major step to continuing a streak that still stands — they can clinch their 16th MIL Division I title in a row by winning the league tournament or a playoff game against the tournament winner next week on their home court.

After their 48-30 win over King Kekaulike in the Lahainaluna gym, the Lunas are the top seed for the MIL D-I tournament and grabbed the state tournament berth that goes to the regular-season winner.

Lahainaluna’s Piper Pascua takes a first-quarter shot.

“It meant a lot to us because to prove to everybody that we can make it back here,” Lahainaluna sophomore forward Kiera Kaniho said after scoring 10 points. “We’re still going to compete.”

The MIL tournament begins Saturday when Baldwin visits Kamehameha Maui at 6 p.m. — the winner of that game will play the Lunas at 5:30 p.m. on Monday in the semifinals.

Lahainaluna (10-2) battled back from two early losses in league play and nailed down the regular-season title. King Kekaulike (8-4) fell to the third seed in the tournament behind Maui High (9-3).

A Na Alii win would have forced a three-way tiebreaker for the regular-season crown, with a pair of playoff games tonight and Saturday.

No need for that now.

Lahainaluna’s Taylor Eldredge follows through on a 3-point attempt Thursday.

“It felt really good,” Kaniho said of the win. “They’re really physical and we just had to do what we had to do.”

Taylor Eldredge led the Lunas with 11 points and Aira Baguyo added eight.

Lahainaluna led 9-4 at the end of the first quarter and opened an 18-11 lead early in the second quarter before Na Alii went on a 9-2 run to tie the game 20-20 on a drive to the rim by Ledjan Pahukoa with 1:11 left in the first half.

From there the Lunas took over. Kaniho hit a free throw, Ashley Akamine hit two free throws and Eldredge scored at the halftime buzzer to give the Lunas a 25-20 lead at the break.

It only continued in the third quarter as Lahainaluna had a 13-2 advantage in the period to open up a 38-22 lead going to the fourth quarter. Na Alii got no closer than 14 the rest of the way.

King Kekaulike’s Namahana Kaeo-Young drives past the Lunas’ Piper Pascua.

“It was a struggle getting there, a lot of things that we need to work on,” Lahainaluna coach Todd Rickard said. “A lot of adversity that this team went go through, whether it was injuries, being young, trying to put it together, just learning the system and trusting in the system.

“Tonight they trusted in it.”

Na Alii must now beat Maui High in the MIL tournament semifinals to keep their season alive. Ashante Wong led Na Alii with 12 points and Namahana Kaeo-Young added 10.

“Our offense kind of sputtered in the second half,” King Kekaulike coach Cy Peters said. “The good thing of this all is that we have the tournament to look forward to. I think everyone in the MIL got better, especially the third round of the season. Hats off to the Lunas, they always get better, each and every year.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

Na Alii’s Ledjan Pahukoa is guarded by Lahainaluna's Margie Ruiz-Sana.

KING KEKAULIKE (30)

Cailyn Ukida 2, Ledjan Pahukoa 3, Namahana Kaeo-Young 10, Annalee Peters 0, Ashante Wong 12, Kreyajan Pahukoa 3, Kailia Purdy 0.

LAHAINALUNA (48)

Ashley Akamine 4, Alea Kimokeo 0, Aira Baguyo 12, Piper Pascua 5, Kiera Kaniho 10, Taylor Eldredge 11, Margie Ruiz-Sana 2, Kyana Brucelas 4.

King Kekaulike 4 16 2 8–30

Lahainaluna 9 16 13 10–48

Also Thursday

LAHAINALUNA BOYS 58, KING KEKAULIKE 45

KING KEKAULIKE (45)

Grayson Maguire 0, Bryson Uchima 0, Jaimes York 0, Jacob Wittenberg 5, Carson Yoshida 16, Andruw Paden 0, Kai Carbajal 0, Kaleb Chun 2, Akhil Fernando-Bell 9, Corey Frias 10, Aidan Griffin 0, Keanu Kupau 0, Trey Hunter 3.

LAHAINALUNA (58)

Cosner Cruz 0, Tre Rickard 14, Kade Cunningham 3, Juztin Gaoiran 9, Malino Jacinto 13, Toby Mizuno 0, Levi Basturo 3, Josh Tihada 0, Matthew Rabino 6, Kanaau Castro 0, Sam Kahaialii 0, TJ Galoia 8, Sam Fifita 2.

King Kekaulike 5 12 20 8–45

Lahainaluna 17 18 8 15–58

BALDWIN BOYS 57, KS MAUI 35

BALDWIN (57)

Jerren Manarpaac 2, Samuel Lomae 11, Owen Nakamura 3, Laa Ponce 2, Holden Ioanis 6, Avery Pauole 7, Kuikawa Ross 16, Quintan Akaka 10, Laakea Asuega-Stark 0, Mafatini Mafatini 0, Caleb-Noah Badayos-Buetzer 0.

KAMEHAMEHA MAUI (35)

Logan Rickard 2, Jaxon Mossman-Smith 3, Pookela Aiu 5, Alec Tolentino 6, Steven Gushiken 3, Brevin Carillo 0, Bryson Reformina 3, Kale Spencer 11, Michael Kalalau 2.

Baldwin 15 16 19 7–57

KS Maui 14 3 4 14–35

KS MAUI GIRLS 47, BALDWIN 36

BALDWIN (36)

Melissa Caliva 17, McKenzie Schwindler 0, Taylor Manangan 2, Kayla Martin 0, Aya Buttaro 4, Talo Mafatini 1, Rita Wengu 0, Makayla Chung 12.

KAMEHAMEHA MAUI (47)

Kuumana Bailey 2, Sienna Poeopoe 0, Alyssia Fernandez-Ruiz 6, Poli Kaia 6, Makamae Kaili-Kramer 2, Lauryn Dubach 10, Tatiana Soon 6, Laakea Hurney 0, Logan Spencer 5, Mikiala Sniffen 3, Alexandria Retuta 0, Angel Pauole 7.

Baldwin 12 12 9 3–36

KS Maui 10 10 16 11–47

MOLOKAI GIRLS 52, HANA 6

Molokai 12 18 10 12–52

Hana 3 0 3 0– 6

Leading scorers–Hana: Deisia-Rae Lind-Kaina 3, Tyra-Li Perry 3. Molokai: Lia-Chae Meyer 13, Jordyn McCutcheon 9, Kawena Davis 8, Sadie Aiana 8.

*****

MIL Standings

GIRLS

DIVISION I

W L Pct. GB

x-Lahainaluna 10 2 .833 —

Maui High 9 3 .750 1

King Kekaulike 8 4 .667 2

Kamehameha Maui 2 10 .167 8

Baldwin 1 11 .083 9

DIVISION II

W L Pct. GB

x-Seabury Hall 10 0 1.000 —

Lanai 4 5 .444 5 1⁄2

Molokai 4 5 .444 5 1⁄2

Hana 0 8 .000 9

x-clinched regular-season title

Thursday’s Results

Lahainaluna 48, King Kekaulike 30

Kamehameha Maui 47, Baldwin 36

Molokai 52, Hana 6

Today’s Games

Molokai at Seabury Hall, 7 p.m.

Lanai at Hana, 7 p.m.

Saturday’s Games

Lanai at Hana (2), 8:30 a.m.

Molokai at Seabury Hall, 11:30 a.m.

D-I tournament first round: No. 5 Baldwin at No. 4 Kamehameha Maui, 6 p.m.

Monday’s Games

D-I tournament semifinal: Kamehameha Maui-Baldwin winner at No. 1 Lahainaluna, 5:30 p.m.

D-I tournament semifinal: No. 2 Maui High vs. No. 3 King Kekaulike at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

Tuesday’s Game

D-I tournament final at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 30

D-I overall championship or second-place playoff, if necessary, at Lahainaluna, 7 p.m.

D-II semifinals at Molokai, 5:30 and 7 p.m.

BOYS

DIVISION I

W L Pct. GB

Baldwin 8 1 .889 —

Maui High 6 2 .750 1 1⁄2

Lahainaluna 6 3 .667 2

Kamehameha Maui 1 8 .111 7

King Kekaulike 1 8 .111 7

DIVISION II

W L Pct. GB

Lanai 4 0 1.000 —

Seabury Hall 4 0 1.000 —

Molokai 2 2 .500 2

St. Anthony 1 2 .333 2 1⁄2

Hana 0 3 .000 3 1⁄2

Maui Prep 0 4 .000 4

Thursday’s Results

Lahainaluna 58, King Kekaulike 45

Baldwin 57, Kamehameha Maui 35

Today’s Games

Hana at Seabury Hall, 5:30 p.m.

St. Anthony at Lanai, 7 p.m.

Molokai vs. Maui Prep at Lahaina Civic Center, 7 p.m.