Canterbury HS Player of the Week
Kahuku has retained the Hawaii Girls’ High School State Championship, having defeated Hilo Reign 45-5 in the final. The young program continues to achieve and fielded two teams in the Oahu Island league – good preparation as the school looks toward its return to single-school nationals in Indiana.
Kahuku spread its scoring across six players, with captain and MVP Kanani Uluave, Shan Keaweehu, Akenese Tito, Taina Scott and Ofa Kauvaka dotting down tries, and Nohea Uluave slotting conversions. Senior power Asi Holika accounted for Hilo Reign’s five points. When it came to nominating a standout from the championship match, Kahuku coach Nusi Tukuafu singled out junior No. 8 Amberae Falemalu for the Canterbury High School Player of the Week.
“She was unstoppable,” Tukuafu reflected on the final. “She did not score a try, but because of her unselfish play, she assisted her teammates in scoring tries.”
Two of those tries came off of lineout plays that Falemalu had called. The team was attacking from approximately 30 meters out, and the forwards captain knew how to set her team up for points.
“Amberae is our 'go to' player that we can rely on when we get into a bind, especially in the opponent's 22-meter zone,” Tukuafu explained. “When she calls the plays for the forwards, whether in the lineout or at the back of the scrum, she is able to execute it not only by herself but as a pack.”
Falemalu was provided more leadership opportunities this season and the junior has been thriving in the more prevalent role.
“Her knowledge of the game has grown so much that we felt very comfortable moving her from the number 7 spot to number 8 this year,” Tukuafu noted. “When she comes off the field, she is still giving direction to the forwards about where they need to be.
“She not only knows her responsibilities from the back of the scrum but is very dangerous in open field when carrying the ball,” the coach added. “A very solid defender, she leads the defensive line, which has allowed five tries in seven matches.”
Like all good leaders, Falemalu is driven in all aspects of her life, including education. The junior carries a 3.8 GPA and is heading to nationals with more than rugby on her mind.
“There's just too many good things to say about Amberae, and I’m glad we still have her for one more year,” Tukuafu concluded.
The Hawaii state champion returns to the mainland for the May 20-21 Single-School National Championship in Elkhart, Ind. The Club High School National Championship occurs May 19-20 at the same location, Moose Rugby Grounds.