For Honokaa and Kayla Branco, it wasn’t about how long they maintained a lead, but rather when the Dragons had it that matters most.
Honokaa trailed for most of their HHSAA Division II state quarterfinal game against No. 4 seeded Kauai on Thursday, but with one second to go, Branco drained a shot to claim a 28-26 victory at Kaimuki High School on Oahu.
After two years at the D-I level, Honokaa moved back down to D-II this season. The Dragons last won the tournament in 2015.
The BIIF runner-ups were led by Branco, who netted 1o points. Bailey Perreira scored a team high nine for the Red Raiders. With their patented stingy defense, Honokaa scored 14 of their 28 points off turnovers and allowed the Red Raiders just five points in the second half.
The Dragons managed to lead in the game for only a grand total of 1:07, while Kauai controlled the contest for nearly 28 minutes, which included a 12-point advantage with 5:19 remaining in the second quarter.
However, Honokaa found a rhythm after going down by double digits and by halftime, the they cut the deficit to four.
Trailing 24-22 entering the fourth quarter, neither team scored until Kui’lei Aikau hit two free throws to tie the game with 1:12 remaining. On the ensuing possession, Shaleina Bird’s steal and layup gave Honokaa its first lead since 1-0, then Perreira tied it with a jumper with 35 seconds left, leading to the Branco’s game-winning jumper off an assist from Bird.
Honokaa will be back in action at 7 p.m. Friday when it takes on No. 1 seed St. Francis in the semifinals.
Kamehameha 53, Le Jardin 21: Jordyn Mantz scored 14 points, Saydee Aganus finished with 12 and Hera Salmeron came off the bench to add 11 at Kalani High in Honolulu as the BIIF champion Warriors (9-4) cruised in the state quarterfinals.
Kamehameha held the ILH Bulldogs (1o-7) to just 8-of-49 shooting.
The second-seeded Warriors will face third-seeded Roosevelt, the OIA champion at 5 p.m. Friday in the semifinals at Kaimuki.