State D-I girls basketball: Kaupu goes for 37 as Konawaena marches to final; Waiakea falls

  • RICK OGATA photo Caiyle Kaupu was a force during the BIIF season, but she turned it up a notch at the state tournament

Konawaena’s Caiyle Kaupu wasn’t paying attention to totals or records.

She was too busy scoring. And winning.

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Kaupu created her own legacy for the state’s pre-eminent girls basketball power Friday with a near record-setting performance, scoring 37 points to lift the Wildcats into their 14th HHSAA Division I championship game with a 56-39 victory against Kahuku at Blaisdell Center in Honolulu.

Dominating on the inside and shooting a remarkable 17 of 20 from the field, Kaupu came within one point of matching the tournament record.

“I didn’t even know there was a record for that,” the senior said on OC16 broadcast. “As long as we got the win, that’s all that matters.

“Moving on to the next round, the last round of the tournament.”

The BIIF champion Wildcats (13-0), the No. 2 seed, will seek their 10th state championship, and first since 2018, against top-seeded and defending state champ Iolani at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Raiders ousted BIIF runner-up Waiakea 57-44 in the later semifinal.

Riding Kaupu and Kaliana Salazar-Harrell, who scored 14 points, Konawaena pulled away from a 26-22 halftime lead. No other Wildcats player scored more than two points, though Grace Hing and Braelyn Kauhi each posted four assists.

If either passed to Kaupu, they were usually rewarded. She added five rebounds and four steals.

The performance was a far cry from the six points she scored in Thursday’s quarterfinals. Salazar-Harrell did most of the heavy lifting in a 40-37 victory against King Kekaulike, scoring 23.

“I came in with a better mentality and was going up stronger and finishing inside, which is where I score most of my points,” Kaupu said. “We really want to bring that state championship home. We’ve worked so hard for it.”

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Iolani 57, Waiakea 44: Lily Wahinekapu came through with 16 points and 15 rebounds, and Alexis Huntimer tallied a game-high 21 points to put the Raiders (15-1) in a position to try and repeat.

In a game in which neither team cracked 40% shooting from the field, Kelsie Imai led the Warriors (12-3) with 14 points and seven rebounds and Keeli-Jade Smith added 10.

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