BIIF water polo: Peaking Hawaii Prep scores pair of lopsided wins at home pool

  • Hawaii Prep’s Nora Healy plays defense on Kealakehe's Hailey Yessis on Thursday in Waimea. (J.R. De Groote/West Hawaii Today). (J.R. De Groote/West Hawaii Today)
  • J.R. De Groote/West Hawaii Today Hawaii Prep’s Chloe Hughes launches a ball just past Kealakehe goalkeeper Kona Resetnikov on Thursday in Waimea.

WAIMEA — If Hawaii Preparatory Academy was looking for a wave of momentum for the final stretch of the season, Wednesday’s pair of games could be considered a sumo-sized cannonball in the pool for Ka Makani to ride into the postseason.

Hawaii Prep scored a pair of lopsided wins in its only home matches of the season, knocking off Kealakehe 17-4 and Konawaena 22-0, running its record to 8-2.

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“It was a lot of fun. We don’t get to play here often, so it’s a great experience,” Hawaii Prep’s Nora Healy said of the home-pool edge. “We are obviously the most familiar with it, so we understand the spacing a little more. It’s a little bit of an edge.”

With a spot in the No. 2 vs. No. 3 semifinal against Kealakehe locked up, there wasn’t much to play for in terms of postseason implications for Hawaii Prep — although the team certainly didn’t play that way.

Against the Waveriders, Ka Makani raced out to a 15-1 lead before coasting to victory. Chloe Hughes led the way with six goals, while Morgan Davis fired five into the back of the net.

The final outcome was quite a bit different than the first time the teams met, which ended in a 7-4 Ka Makani victory. But Hawaii Prep head coach Greg McKenna knows only so much can be taken away from a game where neither team is truly showing their hand with a postseason rematch on the horizon.

“Both teams have been getting better and we know we’ll see them again,” McKenna said. “It was a chance to try some things. Our defense looked really good, which set up our counter attacks. That’s what we had hoped for.”

Meiling Kam had two goals for the Waveriders in the loss.

Kealakehe’s regular season is over at 8-4, while Ka Makani has a pair of games left to play at Naeole Pool in Keaau this weekend as a final tune-up for the first round of the playoffs on April 18.

“We have some confidence after this,” Hawaii Prep’s Jackie Payne said. “Not cocky confidence, but we feel prepared.”

Kamehameha has locked up the top seed and an automatic berth to the state tournament and have a 26-game winning streak after beating Keaau on Tuesday.

In the second game against Konawaena, nine different Ka Makani players found the score sheet, including 10 combined goals from Payne and Healy. The duo, along with standout goalkeeper Ala Taylor, were celebrated on senior day following the game.

The trio of four-year players have been through the ups and downs with the program, the highlight being winning the schools first BIIF title in a decade in 2017.

“We’ve seen a lot here,” Taylor said with a laugh.

McKenna had nothing but good things to say about his small — but sturdy — senior core.

“Ala really came into the starting goalkeeper role at the end of the freshman year. She’s continued to improve and she’s just great. She’s fierce, fearless and a hard worker,” McKenna said. “Jackie is the heart of our defense and she’s stepped up her offensive skill set this year. She’s really excelling with four years under her belt down now. And Nora, too. She’s the heart of the team — first one at practice and making sure everyone is one the same page on this team, creating the culture with her energy and making sure everyone is fired up.”

After back to back years in the state tournament, Hawaii Prep missed out on a tourney berth last year, falling to Kealakehe in the semifinal game. Facing the same situation this year, the Ka Makani seniors are hoping for a different fate and a possible shot at another title.

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“It’s just about how bad you want it,” Taylor said. “If you want it bad enough, you can do it. During our four years, we have seen that over and over with our team.”

“If you work hard, once you get in the pool, anything can happen,” Payne added.

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