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Kahuku on its way to state tournament

Jan. 28—Artevia Wily-Ava was not happy on Saturday night.

The Kahuku girls basketball coach did smile, but only after a 72-34 win over Leilehua in the quarterfinal round of the OIA Division I girls basketball playoffs. The win sealed a berth in the state championships for Kahuku, the top seed out of the East.

Coach Wily-Ava couldn't describe it as a superb performance.

"Yeah, I guess. I don't know. No, not really. In the beginning, there was ball movement, but bodies weren't moving. It's a matter of them executing, remembering no matter what the score is sometimes, we still got to execute plays," Ava-Wily said.

Tuisila Wily-Ava led the Lady Raiders' balanced attack with 17 points, six rebounds and three steals. Posia Wily had 10 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals. Senior Elisa Holakeituai chipped in 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting from the field and 2-for-2 at the free-throw line. She also dished four assists. Freshman Tailele Wily-Ava finished with 10 points and three assists.

Kahuku (15-6 overall) will meet Radford, the second seed from the West, on Monday in the semifinal round at the Pearl City High School gym. Radford outlasted Kailua 48-39 on Friday.

"I don't even know. I haven't read up on them or watched anything of them. I just remember last year, four minutes into our game, they stalled," Coach Wily- Ava said.

That won't happen again thanks to the newly implemented 35-second shot clock. Her daughter, Tuisila, is low-key filled with confidence even though there won't be time for a practice session before Monday's semifinal.

"I just think we have to play our game, just like every other game. Play smart and listen to our coaches," the junior guard-forward said.

The Lady Raiders went 11-0 during the regular season. Kahuku last won the OIA crown in 2020. Campbell has won the past two league titles.

Once Kahuku had a comfortable lead, there was a tendency to launch NBA-range 3-pointers instead of working inside out. Kahuku forced Leilehua into 27 turnovers. Sixth-ranked Kahuku jumped to a 23-2 lead and never looked back. Their wings and post players ran the floor from beginning to end.

"As long as everyone's filling the lane, they're good and that's one of the biggest things we're trying to tell them. When they come off the bench, just be ready. Stay ready and run, fill the lanes," Ava-Wily said.

Dynasty Maunakea led Leilehua (8-5 overall) with 15 points. The Lady Mules didn't press the Lady Raiders, and didn't find their groove until the second quarter.

"I think they had the idea, coming to Kahuku at their home court where they beat everybody badly," Mules coach Brian Canencia said. "We did pretty good in the second quarter and after that."

Leilehua, the fourth-place team in the West, reached the quarterfinals after ousting Kalani 51-39 on Thursday.