No. 8 Konawaena holds off No. 5 Kahuku
SALT LAKE — No. 8 Konawaena isn't ready to give up its crown just yet.
The Wildcats, winners of the past four state titles, staved off a late push by fourth-seeded and fifth-ranked Kahuku for a 46-42 win in the quarterfinals of the Snapple/HHSAA Division I Girls Basketball Championships at Moanalua Thursday night.
Freshman guard Kaliana Salazar Harrell scored a game-high 22 points with five made triples and junior forward Caiyle Kaupu notched a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds to power the Wildcats into Friday's semifinal at the Stan Sheriff Center where they will face top-ranked and top-seeded Iolani at 7:00 p.m.
It was Kahuku's first loss since dropping a 63-33 preseason contest to Maryknoll on Nov. 28.
Although the Red Raiders (15-5 overall) trailed by as many as 11 points in the game, they would constantly get key buckets to stay within a two possession game. However, free throw shooting was Kahuku's downfall as it shot 7-for-19 at the charity stripe.
Quick buckets by Salazar Harrell and a three-point play by Kaupu gave Konawaena (13-4) an early 8-0 lead as the Wildcats never trailed in the contest.
Kaupu also made a stepback fadeaway jumper at the first half buzzer to give the Wildcats a 25-15 halftime lead. She had an efficient shooting night, going 7-for-9 from the field.
Salazar Harrell's fourth 3-pointer of the game gave Konawaena a 28-17 lead early in the third quarter, but Kahuku kept fighting and cut the deficit down to six, 32-26, heading into the final period of play.
However, Konawaena quickly went back up by 11 to start the fourth quarter as Salazar Harrell knocked down another trey and Kaupu put back in her only miss from inside the arc.
Still, the Red Raiders continued to rally and made it a 38-33 game with 2:37 remaining after Meleane Tonga split a pair at the line.
But like it did when Kahuku would show life, Konawaena pulled away again and led 42-33 until the 53.7 mark when Tonga converted two free throws.
The Red Raiders did have some life late when the Wildcats started missing some free throws, but time ultimately ran out on Kahuku as Serina Aumua-Tuisavura's putback at the buzzer gave the final score of the game.
Leiah Naeata led Kahuku in the loss with 16 points and 13 boards.