As sports administrators from high schools, colleges, the pro ranks, youth leagues and everything in between chart a path forward, all we can continue to do is that which some preach never to do: look back.
In doing so, some days have all the luck.
Scouring the 2014 archives of the Trib to find a “game to remember,” it wasn’t one event but one date that sticks out. One night, in fact. In the middle of it all, I remember telling a colleague that it was the most eventful day of high school sports that I could remember here, and that still holds up pretty well.
Feb. 8, 2014
There were seven contests on the docket, and each one was worthy of blowout treatment. Half the work was making sure all seven – two state title games on Oahu; two state quarterfinals, one on Oahu; two BIIF finals; and one boys basketball showdown – were staffed with a writer and a photographer. With the help of a slew of stringers, the Trib and West Hawaii Today about pulled it off.
I settled in for a BIIF boys soccer championship doubleheader at Kamehameha content that everything had been planned out well enough coverage-wise. Even though the Hawaii Prep-Christian Liberty D-II final was ultra-competitive, my mind wondered elsewhere – there was a lot going on.
Justin Perry ended up being the hero for HPA, but in the Perry household he was overshadowed by his father, Stephen Perry, who was guiding HPA’s girls soccer team to its first state title. That’s the ultimate achievement, but it could be argued that wasn’t the biggest of the day for a North Hawaii team, because a little later on Honokaa’s girls basketball team claimed its first state crown.
Of the seven events, the only one that didn’t produce a BIIF winner was the one involving the Konawaena’s girls basketball team – which never loses (and didn’t for a number of years afterward). Oddly enough, that Wildcats’ state quarterfinal took place at Kealakehe High, because the school’s boys basketball team was hosting HPA a in regular-season finale that served as a cross-divisional showdown in Kealakekua. (If I recall correctly, and I think I do, this double scheduling of Wildcats’ basketball didn’t go over too well in some circles).
Here’s a look at how things went down in chronological order (times are approximate and used for dramatic effect):
5 p.m.: Tip-off for the Hilo High girls state D-I quarterfinal basketball game against Roosevelt in Honolulu. Also on Oahu, HPA girls soccer begins its state D-II conquest against Mid-Pacific.
5:15 p.m.: Thanks to a BIIF D-II third-place match that went to penalty kicks, HPA-Christian Liberty gets off to a delayed start.
5:27 p.m.: Mid-Pacific scores to lead HPA’s girls 1-0.
5:31 p.m.: Roosevelt takes a 29-26 lead against Hilo into the half.
5:30 p.m.: Christian Liberty striker Nakaiya Kerr is all over the field and does everything but score as HPA goalkeeper Trent Wise is equal to the task.
5:51 p.m.: HPA’s Justin Perry breaks a scoreless tie late in the first half with what coach Rich Braithwaite called a “man’s goal.” Operating down the right flank, Perry beats three defenders, shouldering off two.
6 p.m.: For a spot in the state D-I girls basketball semifinals, Mililani and Konawaena tip off in Kailua-Kona.
6:15 p.m.: Hilo’s Alexis Pana hits one of two free throws to give the Vikings a three-point lead with 34.1 seconds left against Roosevelt.
6:19 p.m.: The Vikings survive a last-second shot and wrap up a 62-61 victory behind Chailey Cabalis, who scored a game-high 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting.
“It’s resiliency. The girls play every game like it’s their last game of the season, and not save anything for tomorrow,” coach Ben Pana told the Tribune-Herald.
The following Friday, Lahainaluna beat Hilo in the semifinals.
6:26 p.m.: With about 10 minutes remaining and a third consecutive state runner-up finish looming, Bri Vallente bags the equalizer for HPA.
6:32 p.m.: Holding Mililani to just 32% shooting in the first half, Konawaena takes a 30-23 lead to the break.
6:50 p.m.: Nanea Tavares sparks HPA’s dynasty, scoring a golden goal for a 2-1 OT win. Tavares only was on the field for one of Ka Makani’s seven championships, but coach Stephen Perry said she’s has had a hand in each one.
“I text her every year after the HHSAA and tell her (you) started all of this,” Perry said.
6:58 p.m.: HPA’s boys wrap up a 1-0 win against CLA for its BIIF title since 2009.
Asked who would get first dibs once father and son connected later Saturday night, Justin Perry, said, “Dad will go first. You have to go with the state champion.”
7 p.m.: Kamehameha and Honokaa tip off in an all-BIIF final at the state D-II girls basketball championship on Oahu. A week earlier, the Dragons ended the Warriors’ six-year reign atop the BIIF. Now they try to end Kamehameha’s two-year state rule.
7:15 p.m.: Hilo and Kealakehe begin their BIIF D-I boys soccer final at Kamehameha as the Waveriders look for a threepeat.
7:18 p.m.: Konawaena not only loses its lead, but it loses its star, Chanelle Molina. Looking for a game-winning shot, Molina loses her dribble and fell to the ground trying to recover the loose ball,” according to West Hawaii Today.
She laid motionless on the Kealakehe gymnasium floor as the once-raucous crowd of nearly 500 fell to silence. Molina made it off the court under her own power, but was later taken to the hospital in an ambulance, fit with a neck brace.
Konawaena loses 64-61.
“We needed to take care of business tonight and we didn’t,” Konawaena head coach Bobbie Awa told West Hawaii Today.
It’s all business after that. The Wildcats won the next four state championships.
7:23 p.m.: In Kealakekua, HPA and Konawaena tip off in a battle of boys basketball teams that have only one loss between them.
7:33 p.m.: The Dragons are firmly in control, taking a 25-12 halftime lead against the Warriors.
8 p.m.: With Keoni Yates controlling the midfield – coach Urs Leuenberger calls him the “team spine” – the Waveriders take a 2-0 halftime lead against Hilo.
8:17 p.m.: Hunter Liftee contributes 24 points and 12 rebounds and Chancis Fernandez scores 12 in Honokaa’s 54-35 state championship win.
“It feels so great to get it in my senior year,” Liftee told the Tribune-Herald. “It’s the best feeling ever and I’m proud of my teammates.
“It was ugly but we did the job,” Honokaa coach Daphne Honma said. “But we did what it took.”
The Dragons do the job again the following year by earning a state repeat, then Honma took the program back to D-I.
8:51 p.m.: Kalan Camero scores 16 points to lead HPA to a 53-52 victory against Konawaena, capping an undefeated regular season.
“Now we’ve got to take care of business in the BIIF championships,” Camero told West Hawaii Today. “Hopefully get to state from there.”
Initially, Ka Makani don’t take care of business. Camero suffered a concussion in a nasty fall at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, and a day later Kohala surged in the BIIF D-II title game.
Even without Camero, HPA rebounded at the state tournament by winning its first crown. Also rebounding is Konawaena, which won the second of three consecutive BIIF D-I titles.
8:59 p.m.: Kealakehe has its threepeat and a “lucky seventh” for Leuenberger since 2004, beating Hilo 3-0.
“I love Kealakehe; it’s been a great four years,” said Yates, a four-year starter.
The Waveriders won the next three BIIF titles as well, all at the expense of Hilo.