Konawaena Leaves No Doubt in DI Title Victory
Konawaena High School’s girls basketball team rarely has needed to make a statement in its near decade of dominance over the Big Island Interscholastic Federation.
Eight days after a near loss at Hilo High in the regular season finale, Konawaena reminded everyone how unstoppable the Wildcats really are, claiming another BIIF Division I girls basketball championship with a resounding 56-32 victory over Hilo in the KTA Super Stores/BIIF Division I Girls Basketball Championship Game.
A week earlier, Hilo started strong against Konawaena, going off to a 5-0 lead and holding an advantage through most of the first half. The Vikings even held a lead with less than 90 seconds remaining, but a bad shot and a transition basket turned the game around.
This time around, Konawaena never let the Vikings get any momentum early or often.
“For our team, those girls were motivated,” said Konawaena assistant coach Kevin Yamasaki. “They were very excited this week. We worked a lot at practice on execution.”
Konawaena (23-1, 12-0), the top seed in the BIIF tourney, was relentless early, thanks to a healthy Chanelle Molina in the lineup. The senior missed Friday’s game against Waiakea to rest her injured ankle, but was a key facilitator at every end of the court, setting up opportunities for Ihi Victor and her sisters.
The big sign that reminded everyone that Chanelle Molina was back for good, however, came early in the second quarter when she drained a three-pointer from the right side corner and held the pose for an extra second, savoring the shot she hasn’t made since last calendar year.
“She was ready,” Yamaski succinctly stated.
Defensive pressure was key to Konawaena’s success. Staying in a man-to-man defense most of the way, the Wildcats held Hilo to just 29 shot attempts for the game, with the Vikings hitting 12 of them. Konawaena also forced 15 turnovers.
“Our man-to-man is always our number one defense, unless we get into foul trouble and then we gotta go back into our zone. Hilo’s a good shooting team, so when we sit back in the zone, it is easier for them to move the ball and get the open shots,” Yamasaki explained. “When we are in the man, they have to work a little bit harder to get those open looks.”
Victor, possibly this year’s league player of the year because of Chanelle Molina’s injury, led all scorers with 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting and 6-for-8 from the free throw line. The older Molina added 15 points, and junior Celena Molina chipped in 12 points, shooting 5-for-6 from the field and 2-for-4 from the foul line.
Sharlei Graham-Bernisto scored 12 points and hit three treys to lead Hilo.
Konawaena extended its league winning streak to 92 games. They will more than likely receive the top seed in this week’s OC16/Hawai’i High School Athletic Association Division I Girls Basketball Championships, held Tuesday through Friday on Oahu. Hilo will join them, but will have to win three games in three days to reach the championship game, while the Wildcats will get a bye on opening night.
#2 Hilo 7 10 7 8 – 32
#1 Konawaena 17 18 15 6 – 56