Vulcan Women Fall on Akana’s Game Winner
Chaminade women’s basketball coach Bobby Keanini doesn’t have a lot of money or resources to work with in trying to put together a competitive basketball team. Coaching isn’t even his full-time job.
He has, however, managed to collect some of the state’s top high school basketball players and turn them into Division II college athletes.
Kennedi Akana is a prime example of that. A graduate of Kamehameha-Kapalama, the junior has already set the school record for blocked shots in each of her first two seasons, and on Saturday night, she added a game-winning basket to her collegiate resume.
Akana’s game-winning layup with two seconds remaining helped Chaminade knock off the University of Hawai’i at Hilo 58-56 Saturday night at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.
Chaminade (4-12 overall, 4-8 PacWest) still suffered some growing pains in its effort to continue to learn how to win. The Silverswords held an eight point lead with less than four minutes left in the game before C.C. Rode started a 9-1 run with a three-pointer that cut the Vulcans’ deficit down to 55-50.
Jordan Kealoha eventually cut it down to two on a running floater with 35 seconds remaining to make it 56-54. After a timeout, UH-Hilo rolled out a full court trap, and Chaminade guard Glacen Florita couldn’t handle it, bobbling her dribble out of bounds in front of the Vulcans’ bench with :30.7 left.
UH-Hilo (7-9, 6-6) would capitalize. McKenzie Mangino drove down the right side of the paint against Akana and scooped a right-handed shot under her outstretched arms, tying the game with :18.4 left.
Chaminade didn’t call a timeout on the other end, and Florita’s bounce pass went in to the right low post a tad wide of Akana. Mangino overplayed the pass to Akana’s right, and the Silverswords’ post player made her pay with a point-blank look for the win.
“We had our opportunities tonight. Give Chaminade credit. They did a good job and found a way to win it,” said UH-Hilo coach David Kaneshiro. “I don’t think it’s any one play or person why we lost this, but we have to bounce back.”
Both teams started slow out of the gate, but UH-Hilo would gain a bit of control early with the first seven points of the game. A pair of 5-0 scoring runs, separated by a Hayley Reynolds jumper, put Chaminade in front for the first time. Shana Kawakami’s steal and layup gave the Silverswords a 10-9 lead with just over 11 minutes remaining in the half.
Kawakami was a spark plug off of the bench, contributing nine points and a pair of steals. Her basket with the clock winding down at the end of the first half sent Chaminade into the locker room with a 33-28 lead.
UH-Hilo opened up the second half the same way it did in the first, quickly turning its halftime deficit into a lead by going on an 8-0 run. The frontcourt tandem of Mangino and Hayley Reynolds, who Keanini described as one of the best post duos in the PacWest, combined for all of those points, putting the Vulcans ahead 36-33 just four minutes into the final frame.
The lead would be lost momentarily, but Kealoha brought it back with two of her eight points on a pair of free throws that gave UH-Hilo a 41-39 advantage halfway through the last stanza.
UH-Hilo’s lead ballooned back to six, but the Silverswords weren’t going down quietly, even without top rebounder Lilia Maio, who fouled out with over 12 minutes left to play. Reserve Carissa McBride hit a pair of free throws to nudge Chaminade ahead 47-46 with 6:22 remaining, and Florita capped off a 10-1 run with a basket of her own to grow her team’s lead to 55-47 with under four to play, setting up the dramatic finish.
Mangino led the way for UH-Hilo, scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Reynolds followed with 11 points on 5-for-10 shooting. A total of 21 turnovers were a key contributor to the Vulcans’ woes.
“Give them credit. They were quick and aggressive,” Kaneshiro explained. “We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be. I think that’s what it comes down to.”
Florita paced Chaminade to a fourth win of the season, a best under Keanini. She scored 13 points and brought down six rebounds.
UH-Hilo did not have the services of Kirstie Williams for the final ten minutes of the game. The Vulcans’ best outside shooter suffered a left shoulder injury after a collision with Katie Buskey on a pass that both players went for at the left sideline.
The loss, coupled with a win by Academy of Art, dropped UH-Hilo out of a tie for sixth place in the conference standings. The top six head to Irvine, Calif. at the end of the season for the conference tournament.
Azusa Pacific is the next opponent for UH-Hilo Monday night. APU is currently in a three-way tie for third place in the conference standings after defeating Hawai’i Pacific Saturday night. Tip-off from the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Chaminade 33 25 – 58
Hawai’i-Hilo 28 28 – 56