Improbable Finish Leads KS-Kapalama to Girls Basketball Title
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by Josh Pacheco
The final game of the 2012-2013 girls basketball season brought a finish that hoops fans will be talking about for a long time.
Kamehameha-Kapalama, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion and tournament second seed, trailed by as much as 20 points in the third quarter before embarking on a 25-0 scoring run lasting over a full quarter of play. The Warriors defeated the top seed, Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Kamehameha-Kapalama 45-39 in overtime to win their first championship since 2002.
The Wildcats opened the game with an 11-7 lead after the opening quarter with a solid effort by freshman Chanelle Molina and senior Courtney Kaupu, who combined to shoot 5-for-7 in the frame and scored all of the opening quarter’s points.
The Warriors found themselves in the game’s first dry spell from the field. Kealani Ryder scored a layup to give her team a 7-6 lead with 4:35 remaining in the opening period. They would not hit a field goal for over 14 minutes. In that stretch, Konawaena opened up a 22-9 halftime lead and scored another basket after the intermission.
During that span, Molina wowed the Neal Blaisdell Center crowd with a perfect shooting second quarter, including a Michael Jordan-esque step-back jumper to cap her 4-for-4 second period effort. Molina scored 14 points in the first half to lead the Wildcats and finished with a game high 16 points.
Konawaena (21-2) kept up the pressure and took their biggest lead at 33-13 when Hokulani Liftee clanked a trey off of the back of the rim before watching it drop. Moments later, Tiare Kanoa followed with a step back three pointer from the top of the arc, a shot that seemed to spark the ILH champions.
The Wildcats tried to take the air out of the basketball to preserve the 19 point lead they took into the final frame. The Warriors scored the first five points of the fourth quarter before Bobbie Awa called a timeout to get Konawaena to re-focus. The move didn’t work. Ryder scored the next four points to bring the deficit down to 10 points.
Minutes later, with the lead cut down to three points, Lilia Maio stole the ball away from Kaupu near half court, leading to a transition layup and a foul. The three point play tied the game at 37 and led the championship contest into overtime.
Maio, who finished with 14 points, all in the second half and overtime, hit a jumper seconds into overtime to give Kamehameha-Kapalama the lead. The Wildcats had a chance to tie the game, but Molina missed a point-blank layup on an inbound play and her squad could not make up the deficit.
Kamehameha-Kapalama (15-0) outscored Konawaena 27-4 in the final 12 minutes of the game to seal their ninth state championship.
Kanoa scored 16 points and shot 9-of-12 from the charity stripe to lead the Warriors, who shot 36 percent from the field and overcame 17 turnovers. Ryder and Taira Robins-Hardy added six points.
Konawaena shot 16-for-36 from the floor, a 44 percent clip, but was hurt by 16 turnovers, seven of them in the final 12 minutes. Kaupu added 12 points, while Liftee and Mercedes Victor scored six each. No one else was able to score.
Kamehameha-Kapalama 7 2 9 19 8 – 45
Konawaena 11 11 13 2 2 – 39
Division I All-Tournament Team