Second Half Surge Pushes Konawaena to BIIF DI Title
Hilo entered Saturday night’s KTA Super Stores/Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I Girls Basketball Championship game hoping to avoid a mercy rule blowout similar to the one it suffered on Jan. 13.
At the same scene of that 36-point victory nearly a month ago, Konawaena High School’s Onizuka Gymnasium, it was a familiar name who looked to put a similar stamp on a Konawaena victory.
Konawaena freshman Cherilyn Molina hit three third quarter treys, breaking a halftime tie and pushing the Wildcats to their seventh consecutive BIIF Division I championship, pulling away from Hilo for a 58-41 victory.
The youngest of three Molina sisters on the Konawaena team, Cherilyn scored 12 points and shot 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. A month ago, she hit five treys and scored 19 points to give Konawaena a 58-22 mercy rule victory.
“It was actually a call from Coach Tory [Guillermo] who told us to run a certain offense,” said Konawaena coach Bobby Awa. “What happened was in the locker room, Coach Jess [Hanato] just told the girls ‘your shots were not falling in the first half, you guys are rushing, just shoot the ball.’ The girls came back out with some confidence.
“Cherilyn, the freshman, came out and got her confidence, shot the ball well. That was huge.”
Both teams entered the locker room deadlocked at 31-31. Hilo, last year’s runner-up, led by as much as five points twice in the first half. The Vikings scored the first five points in the game and held a similar lead in the final few minutes of the half. Konawaena scored the last four in a row in the last 47 seconds of the half to tie the game, capped by Linsday Bates’ running jumper with :04 left.
Hilo (16-5 overall, 10-2 BIIF) was paced by a strong first half from Faith Loeak, who scored five points in each of the first two quarters. She finished with a team-high 11 points. It was a much-needed compliment to the six first half points from Alexis Pana and five first half points from Chailey Cabalis.
Konawaena (28-1, 12-0) also got help from 5-foot-11 junior Ihi Victor, who scored eight of her game-high 14 points in the third quarter. She forced Hilo’s Shalyn Guthier out of the game with her third foul after scoring on an inside basket just over three minutes through the third, giving Konawaena a 39-34 lead. From there, the Wildcats ended the game on a 19-7 run.
Hilo shot 4-for-18 in the second half, thanks in part to adjustments from the Wildcats’ end. The Vikings shot 10-for-21 in the opening 16 minutes.
“We weren’t quick enough. We weren’t closing out hard enough,” said Awa of her team’s defensive effort in the first half. “We just made those adjustments and we did a good job in the second half.”
Konawaena extended its BIIF winning streak to 83 games, a streak started during the 2008-2009 season. It’s championship win was the seventh consecutive title for the school.
Both schools will represent the BIIF in the New City Nissan/Hawai’i High School Athletic Association Girls State Basketball Championships on Oahu. Hilo will open play on Tuesday while Konawaena, returning to the state tournament for a fourteenth consecutive year, will play on Wednesday.
Hilo 15 16 6 4 – 41
Konawaena 18 13 22 5 – 58