Kohala Earns First State Tourney Win Since 1991
Ending a 25-year dry spell at the state tournament isn’t supposed to be easy.
Kohala, the Big Island Interscholastic Federation runner-up, learned that the hard way on Wednesday night in the opening round of the OC16/Hawai’i High School Athletic Association Division II Girls Basketball Championships, hosted on the Big Island for the first time in tournament history.
Despite trailing by as much as eight points in the second half, Kohala clawed back to tie the game in regulation and overtime and pulled away from Kapa’a in double overtime to win 47-40.
The win nearly didn’t happen in the first overtime. Senior Jessica Tenorio, who did not play in regulation, dropped in a 13-foot runner in the paint to tie the game at 39-39 with nine seconds left. Moments later, teammate Brittany Shimono fouled Kapa’a’s best free throw shooter, freshman Jaliyah Casem, with six ticks on the clock.
“I told [Shimono] ‘What are you doing? Daydreaming?’,” said Kohala coach Adam Harrison after the game.
Fortunately for Shimono and Kohala, they were let off the hook when Casem, a 75 percent free throw shooter in KIF play, missed both free throws, sending the game to double overtime.
From there, senior Na’ai Solomon Lewis took over. Saddled with foul trouble since early in the first half, she drained the first two shots in the second extra period to push Kohala out to a 43-39 lead with 2:45 remaining.
Kohala (9-7 overall, 8-5 BIIF/HHSAA) was then able to force Kapa’a into being a jump shooting team, something that the Lady Warriors aren’t known for, hitting just four three-point shots in eight KIF games this season. Kapa’a shot 0-for-8 from the field in the final four minutes of the game.
Free throw shooting was a problem on both sides. Kohala held itself back from the charity stripe, shooting just 30.2 percent (13-for-43). Kapa’a wasn’t much better, knocking down just 12 of its 24 free throw attempts.
“When it really counted, we came through,” said Harrison, whose Cowgirls shot 3-for-8 from the foul line in both overtime periods. “I think they did real good on the line tonight.”
Kapa’a (8-1 KIF/HHSAA) got off to a sluggish start, shooting 0-for-6 to start the game, falling in a 7-0 hole in the first 3:30. Entering the second quarter, however, the Warriors found a brief stretch of offensive success, putting together a 7-0 run, Casem’s basket gave the Warriors a 10-9 lead with 4:35 left in the first half, and a pair of offensive rebounds on the next possession led to a three-point make by Kunani Tuttle to extend the lead to 13-9 just over a minute later.
Size was a contributing factor to Kapa’a holding the lead for much of the game, grabbing 22 offensive rebounds and out-boarding Kohala 58-53. Two offensive rebounds led to a basket by Pesi Paua, starting a 6-0 run to start the second half to give Kapa’a its biggest lead at 21-13 just three minutes in to the third quarter.
Kohala tied the game early in the fourth when Tezrah Antonio tied the game at 23-23 with two free throws in the fourth quarter. But Kapa’a ballooned the lead back to five points twice.
Shimono leveled the game again with 1:17 left by draining a key three-pointer to level the game at 34-34. On the next possession, Mikayla Kekoa, Kohala’s tough inside presence, scored to give the Cowgirls a 36-34 lead with under a minute left. A foul on Solomon-Lewis, however, sent Casem to the free throw line to sink two shots with :35 remaining.
Solomon-Lewis lead Kohala with 14 points and 14 rebounds. Shimono added 13 points and three steals, and Kekoa scored six points and grabbed 17 rebounds, despite shooting 2-for-11 from the free throw line.
No one scored in double-figures for Kapa’a. Laka Daligcon-Pomaikai was the closest, scoring nine points and grabbing a team-high 12 rebounds. The Wariors, however, shot 20.3 percent (13-64) from the field and 2-for-16 from beyond the arc.
Kohala, making its third appearance in the Division II state tournament, had lost its previous four games in 2013 and 2014. Wednesday’s win was its first since 1991, when it defeated Honoka’a in the consolation round of the Division I tournament.
Maui Interscholastic League champion Moloka’i, seeded fourth in the tournament, will face Kohala on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Kea’au High School. Kapa’a moves down to the consolation round game against McKinley at 3 p.m., also at Kea’au.
Kohala 8 5 8 15 3 8 – 47
Kapa’a 6 9 8 13 3 1 – 40
OC16/HHSAA Division II girls basketball tournament scores
Kohala 47, Kapa’a 40 (2OT)
St. Francis 48, Waipahu 28
Mid-Pacific 49, Hanalani 28
Damien 50, McKinley 40
OC16/HHSAA Division I girls basketball tournament scores
Farrington 42, Kamehameha-Maui 30
Radford 49, Roosevelt 40
Kaiser 34, Leilehua 27
Lahainaluna 77, Mililani 38
Konawaena 51, Punahou 27
Maryknoll 68, Hilo 53