'Iolani girls basketball rallies to earn ILH title

Jan. 30—Kamehameha presented adversity.

'Iolani accepted the gift, turning an eight-point third-quarter deficit into a decisive 45-34 win over the Warriors to capture the ILH girls basketball championship on Monday night.

The win sealed the round-two title for regular-season winner 'Iolani. If Kamehameha had won, the teams would have met one more time for the league championship.

Freshman Justice Kekauoha scored six of her 11 points in the fourth quarter for 'Iolani (23-3 overall). Mia Frye hustled for eight points and Hailey Fernandez had seven in the Raiders' balanced attack. Kamehameha had a 29-21 lead in the third quarter, but for a second consecutive visit to Father Bray Athletic Complex, the Warriors didn't sustain their momentum and lost by a double-digit margin.

"Iolani went on a 24-5 run to close the game.

"Coach said it's up to us," Frye said. "If we want it, we're going to have to work for it, and that's what we did. Kanoe (Hanohano) hit some clutch 3s and Justice had some clutch layups. We wanted it, so we got it."

Four-time defending state champion 'Iolani will have an opening-round bye in the Heide &Cook/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships, which begin next Monday. The Raiders' first game will be in the quarterfinal round two days later. Kamehameha (17-8 overall) will begin play on Monday in the opening round. The bracket will be released by the HHSAA later this week.

"I'm proud of the way we came out in the third quarter, knowing how strong 'Iolani is in the third," Warriors coach Pua Straight said. "I'm always proud of the way we work for each other. We never lack effort. We're improving on the little things."

It was a rugged, physical battle with mostly Raiders hitting the hardwood upon contact with their visitors. Yet, it was the Raiders who got into foul trouble. Centers Mele Sake and Callie Pieper each picked up two fouls in the opening quarter and finished the game with a combined five points and three rebounds.

"We tell them to expect a physical game, but with our bigs in foul trouble, now Kamehameha has an advantage. Some of the fouls were touch fouls that I didn't like, but some were stupid fouls that could be avoided," Raiders coach Dean Young said. "It's 17-17 at halftime, let's go out there and win the second half."