Kamehameha-Hawaii players celebrate their second straight HHSAA Division II state championship on Friday after beating Honokaa 55-46 in the title game. (Jay Metzger/Hawaii Media Source)
Junior Casey Poe scored 28 points to lead defending champion Kamehameha-Hawaii to a 55-46 win over Honokaa in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association girls Division II state basketball championship game on Friday night.
The contest was played at Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu. It was a rematch of last week’s Big Island Interscholastic Federation title game in which Kamehameha-Hawaii prevailed 49-48 in a thriller at Kealakehe.
Poe, a multitalented 5-foot-11 guard/forward, took over in the final half as Kamehameha-Hawaii rallied from 22-16 deficit at the intermission. She scored 20 of her game-high 28 points in the second half, including hitting 12 of 14 free throws as the Warriors outpointed the Dragons 14-0 during a third quarter run to grab the lead for good.
In that game-turning period, Kamehameha-Hawaii outscored Honokaa 20-6. The Dragons fought back in the fourth quarter, closing to 47-40 on Shayla Ignacio’s eight-foot jumper with 1:42 remaining. But sophomore Chyann “Maka” Gabriel hit back-to-back layups to stretch the lead to 51-40 at the 1:05 mark, and the Warriors then made four free throws the rest of the way to seal the deal.
Gabriel and senior guard Namele Naipo-Arsiga each had 10 points to follow Poe, and high-scoring sophomore Riana Arima added seven to go along with five steals. Only four Warriors — Poe, Gabriel, Naipo-Arsiga and Arima — scored for the champions in the title game.
Hunter Liftee, a 5-9 junior center, led Honokaa (10-4) with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Freshman guard Kizzah Maltezo had 11 points off the bench, and senior Keana Kaohimaunu chipped in with eight.
But it was definitely the “Poe Show” in the final half as the Warriors (12-3) captured their second straight title under head coach Garrett Arima and the school’s fourth Division II crown overall. The private school in Keaau has played in four of the last five state Division II title games and has been the dominant Division II program in the state since the tournament began in 2004. Next year, the Warriors plan to move up to the Division I level.
Casey Poe — she made 7 of 17 field goals and the 14 of 16 free throws on the night — not only poured in 20 second half points, but she also finished with seven rebounds, three steals and four blocked shots in an outstanding all-around performance.
Poe said Kamehameha-Hawaii’s state tournament experience helped, especially in the second half when the Warriors clamped on a tenacious three-quarter court press and sprinted into the lead with their explosive 14-0 run in the third quarter. Turnovers during the eight-minute frame were the biggest thorn in the Dragons’ side.
“We’ve been here before and we knew what to expect,” Poe said. “In the second half, we didn’t want to make mistakes and still play with all of our heart.”
Once the Warriors built a solid lead in the third quarter, they spread the floor with Poe, Naipo-Arsiga and Arima handling the ball on the perimeter and made 12 of 14 free throws to carry a 36-28 advantage into the final period.
For the game, Kamehameha-Hawaii drilled 23 of 29 free throws while Honokaa was 5 of 6 from the charity stripe.
The Warriors also shot 39 percent (16-of-41) from the field and 0-for-2 on 3-pointers. The Dragons hit 43 percent (20-of-47) from the floor and 14 percent (1-of-7) on treys.
Honokaa outrebounded the Warriors 35-23, but the Dragons’ 23 turnovers compared to 15 for Kamehameha-Hawaii also hurt their chances of winning.
Honokaa 13 9 6 18 — 46
KS-Hawaii 6 10 20 19 — 55