When Casey Poe and Riana Arima carry the scoring load, the Kamehameha-Hawaii girls basketball team is in good shape, even if the defending Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II state champion gets off to a slow start and trails through the third quarter.
Poe scored 18 points, and Arima added 17 to lift the Warriors over University High 54-48 in the Division II state quarterfinals on Wednesday at Oahu’s Kaimuki High.
The Warriors (10-3) will play Hanalani (9-3) in the semifinals at 7 p.m. today at Kalani High.
Last year, Hawaii Prep, which didn’t make the state tournament this season, stunned Radford, the No. 1 seed and the defending state champ at the time, 48-45 in the quarterfinals.
With that in mind, Kamehameha coach Garrett Arima was glad to get past the Junior Rainbows (8-3) and put the clamps on their counter-punching scoring duo of Kianalei Machida and Markayisha Masani. They had 19 points and 14 points, respectively, in a 54-42 first-round win over Saint Francis.
“We squeaked out another win. We couldn’t get in sync offensively from the beginning of the game,” he said. “We started off slow, got into foul trouble and didn’t execute offensively. It was a long first half.”
The good news was the Warriors didn’t dig themselves into a deep hole. They trailed just 26-25 at halftime. They relied on defense and held Machida and Masani to 12 points each.
“We put on at least more defensive pressure, not our half-court trap, but a full man,” Arima said. “We got more in sync and Riana hit a big trey (Kamehameha’s only 3-pointer) in the third quarter, and drove to the lane. That brought us back into the game, and at that point we took the lead.”
Then the experience of playing in big games kicked in. When University, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu runner-up, attempted to rally, the Warriors didn’t hit the panic button. They did all the little things champions do.
“Once we took the lead, we were fine,” Arima said. “Our composure was evident. We maintained ball control and ball possession and made our free throws down the stretch. I told the team that ball possession and free throws would win this game. We hit big free throws at the end.”
The Warriors also got offensive help from their other starters. Namele Naipo-Arsiga added 10 points, and Chyann Gabriel had seven points. The contributions all helped to continue a journey that only climbs in difficulty.
“We found a way to get through this one,” said Arima, with a sense of relief in his voice. “Every game after gets harder. The next one will definitely be harder. We have to come out strong and be ready to go.”
KS-Hawaii 18 7 12 17 — 54
University 19 7 10 12 — 48
Honokaa 37, Hawaii Baptist 35: Hunter Liftee scored 23 points, hitting a layup with 3 seconds left, and the Dragons survived a nail-biter to hand the Eagles (10-1), the ILH champs and No. 3 seed, their first loss of the season.
Keana Kaohimaunu and Shayla Ignacio added six points each for the Dragons (9-3), who led 16-5 after the first quarter but just 19-17 at halftime.
Stephanie Dang scored nine points to lead Hawaii Baptist.
Honokaa plays Kauai High (9-0), the No. 2 seed and last season’s state runner-up, in the semifinals at 5 p.m. at Kalani.
Honokaa 16 3 10 8 — 37
Hawaii Baptist 5 12 7 11 — 35
McKinley 66, Kohala 47: It was a two-game exit for the Cowgirls (4-9), who experienced a rude welcome back to the state tournament, appearing for the first time since 1981 as the BIIF’s No. 3 team.
Freshman Tezrah Antonio nailed four 3-pointers for 13 points, while freshman Briana Harrison added 10 points. Senior Sheana Cazimero had nine, and Hauoli Sproat-Lancaster chipped in eight for Kohala, which trailed 33-21 at halftime at Kalani.
Taisha Thomas scored 18 points, while Mariz Navarro and Miranda Schmillen had 14 each for the Tigers (9-6), the Oahu Interscholastic Association’s No. 3 team. McKinley will play ILH No. 4 seed Saint Francis (9-5) at 3 p.m. today at Kalani in the tournament’s seventh-place game.
McKinley 10 23 14 19 — 66
Kohala 8 13 18 8 — 47