Konawaena’s quest for title No. 10 came to a halt Friday night, as top-seeded Iolani proved too much for the young Wildcats to handle.
Behind 15 points from Taylor Wu and a huge second half surge, the ILH champion Raiders knocked off the four-time defending champion Wildcats 43-22 in a HHSAA Division I semifinal at the San Sheriff Center on Oahu.
After trailing by a point in the second quarter, Iolani outscored Konawaena 29-7 the rest of the way.
The 22 points were a season low for Konawaena. Caiyle Kaupu had a team-high 9 points for the Wildcats, who shot just 26 percent for the game and made just one field goal in the second half.
Konawaena entered the contest against the Raiders with a 12-1 record in semifinal matches at the state tournament, the lone loss coming to Punahou in 2006. The loss to Iolani stopped a 10-game win streak in the semifinals for the ‘Cats.
It will also be the first time since 2008 an outerisland team will not be involved in the D-I state championship.
This was the youngest roster coach Bobbie Awa — the winningest coach in state tournament history — has had during her tenure with the Wildcats. The fortunate thing is that all the players are slated to return, including six freshman who gained valuable state tournament experience.
Konawaena was the final BIIF squad in title contention after Kalani —the OIA runner-up — bounced league champion Waiakea from the tourney in the quarterfinals.
Iolani is the top seed and the last seeded team left standing. Lahainaluna (No. 3) Waiakea (No. 2) and Kahuku (No. 4) were all beaten in the quarterfinals.
In a consolation game Friday, Waiakea beat Lahainaluna 60-54 behind Zaylynn Lui-Cabinatan’s 16 points. The Warriors play Kahuku at 9 a.m. Saturday for fifth place.
The Raiders will face Kamehameha-Kapalama in the championship game today. The Warriors rode a HHSAA tournament record 38 points from Kalina Obrey to a 62-49 win over Kalani.
It will be a rematch of the ILH championship, which Iolani won 60-48. Iolani’s last title came in 1996, while Kamehameha won it all in 2013.
The Wildcats will have a chance to play for third place in the consolation bracket today against Kalani. Since 2004, Konawaena has finished outside of the top three teams in the state just three times (2014, ’08, ’06).
While there’s no title on the line, the game will serve as a big measuring stick for a young Konawaena squad. The Wildcats opened the year with a 66-54 loss to the Falcons in the preseason.
The Wildcats have had a penchant for hot starts in big games, but this time it was Iolani coming out firing, doubling up Konawaena 12-6 in the first quarter.
With some stingy defense, the Wildcats hung around, using a 9-2 run to take their first lead of the game at 15-14 with just under five minutes left in the second quarter.
That score would hold until there was less than a minute left in the half, with Iolani getting a layup to retake the lead. The Raiders added another bucket to enter the break with a narrow 18-15 edge. The Wildcats did not shoot a free throw through the first 16 minutes.
Konawaena opened the third quarter with a trio of turnovers and Iolani stretched its lead to as much as 14 in the third quarter. The highlight stretch was a scooping drive by Wu, followed immediately by a steal and score from Alexis Huntimer that gave Iolani a 28-17 edge.
The deluge of points continued for Iolani in the fourth, leading to the largest loss for Konawaena at the state tournament. The previous mark came in a 1998 quarterfinal loss to Kalaheo, 48-29.
In Division II, Waipahu beat Ka’u 52-38 in the seventh-place game – Reishalyn Jara had 19 points and eight rebounds for the Trojans – and Hawaii Prep reached the fifth-place game with a 47-38 victory against Farrington.