Streak stops at 124: Waiakea emphatically hands Konawaena first loss since 2008

  • RICK OGATA photo
    Waiakea's Zaelynn Lui-Cabinatan puts up a shot during her 18-point performance Thursday night as the Warriors' beat Konawaena 54-22
  • RICK OGATA photo
    Waiakea’s Kelsie Imai dribbles against Konawaena on Thursday night during the Warriors’ 54-22 victory at their gym.

The streak had to end sometime, and it felt like a changing of the guard when Waiakea, a rising power, delivered the nail in the coffin against Konawaena, the gold standard of girls basketball.

On Senior night, behind balanced scoring and a suffocating defense, the Warriors dominated Konawaena 54-25 in a BIIF Division I showdown on Thursday night at their gym.

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Waiakea (6-1) is now the front-runner for the No. 1 seed to the four-team BIIF playoffs and avoids a potential rematch against either the Wildcats or Hilo, which earlier defeated the Warriors 49-43, in the semifinals.

The Wildcats (8-1) saw their decade-plus unbeaten BIIF win streak come to an end at 124 games. Their last loss was against Waiakea in 2008 for the BIIF title

Zaelynn Lui-Cabinatan scored 18 points, and Kelsie Imai added 11 points to lead the Warriors, who shot 47 percent from the field and buried 4 of 6 from beyond the arc.

Juliana Losalio-Watson scored seven points while Caiyle Kaupu and Kaliana Salazar Harrell scored four points each for the Wildcats, who shot just 22 percent (9 of 41) from the floor, including 0 for 21 from long distance.

Kaupu and Salazar Harrell are Konawaena’s inside-outside scoring punch. But the Warriors had a brilliant game plan against both. Waiakea’s help-side defense smothered Kaupu any time she touched the ball in the paint, and a rotation of guards shadowed Salazar Harrell, who was unable to shake free for any clean looks.

Meanwhile, no one could guard Imai off the dribble. She repeatedly beat the defense for rim attacks and kickout passes. Imai finished with three assists.

From the start, the Wildcats didn’t look like themselves. They trailed 10-0, shot 0 for 8 from the field and committed eight turnovers in the first quarter. Both teams finished with 16 giveaways.

The Warriors hit them with a dose of everything in the first eight minutes. The ran a high-low play when Keeli-Jade Smith fed Jazelle Dorser, then Lui-Cabinatan scored a pair of layups off turnovers, and Claire Kaneshiro, who had eight points, swished a 3-pointer.

In the second quarter, Destynee Williams opened with a 3-pointer, and Imai raced down the court and fed Lui-Cabinatan for an easy score. Williams got a putback to push Waiakea ahead 17-0. That was the type of transition attack and glass cleaning that Konawaena used to hammer opponents with.

Kayla Pak hit one of two free throws to get Konawaena on the scoreboard with 5:36 left. Losalio-Watson got Konawaena’s first basket with 4:18 to go until halftime, and Salazar Harrell followed with her first basket.

Previously, the Wildcats were experts at not beating themselves. They would race back on defense, limit their turnovers and didn’t give away free points by fouling and letting opponents take free throws.

However, Waiakea fed Konawaena a taste of its own medicine. The Warriors were faster in transition and didn’t allow any Konawaena layups. They attacked the rim and made 13 of 22 free throws; the Wildcats went 4 of 6 from the line and saw most of their shots contested.

Kona has won the last 10 BIIF titles and the last four HHSAA championships. But adding to that collection only got a lot harder. The Wildcats will likely have a rematch against Hilo, which lost to the Wildcats 46-44 in Kealakekua. But much like the Warriors, the Vikings are a rising power.

In the JV game, it was Konawaena 36, Waiakea 35.

Konawaena 0 9 3 13 — 25

Waiakea 10 18 7 19 — 54

Hawaii Prep 38, Kohala 29: Mariah Borce scored 13 points in Waimea as Ka Makani earned their first win.

Leila Caravalho led the Cowgirls (1-4) with 14 points.

HPA (1-6), which led 22-12 at the half, is still very much in the playoff picture in Division II.

Kealakehe 43, Honokaa 40: Saidah Muhammad hit two clutch free throws late and Kealakehe survived a final shot by Honokaa to win in Kona.

It was the Waveriders’ second win in a row, as the team moved to 4-3 on the season.

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Muhammad finished with a team-high nine points, five of those coming in the fourth quarter and all from the line. Tiare Kekuaokalani and Jaydyn Afaga each added seven.

Honokaa only had six players on the roster against the Waveriders, leading Kaena Tagabi to carry the scoring load with 19 points. Destynee Carvalho added 11 points for the Dragons (2-4).

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