Wily willed Kahuku


RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM Kahuku's Latoya Wily looked to make a

shot against Kalaheo on April 13. Wily

narrowly missed being named Player of the Year.

The center joins two from Konawaena on the all-state first team
Nancy Hoist put Konawaena on her shoulders

This year's girls basketball state championship game was like a recurring bad dream for Latoya Wily.

The 6-foot senior center for Kahuku came mighty close to leading the Red Raiders to the title in the final against Konawaena.

At the end -- after getting as close as three points on four different occasions before succumbing -- Wily cried painful tears of defeat.

The scene was ominously similar to the end of Wily's junior season, when Kahuku lost to Punahou by two points in the championship game and she vowed to win it all the next time around.

"Talk about determination, and you think of Latoya," Red Raiders coach Wendy Anae said. "She wanted it so much all year long. She carried our team with a great work ethic that started way back in the offseason."

A Star-Bulletin All-State first-team pick, Wily was a scoring and rebounding machine as the Red Raiders stormed to the Oahu Interscholastic Association championship.

She saved her best for last, scoring more than 20 points in three state-tournament games, and she barely missed out on becoming player of the year.

"Latoya is the Shaq of girls basketball," Konawaena coach Bobbie Awa said. "You give her the ball inside and you can't stop her. She's a force who pounds the glass."

Wily was one of two Kahuku players picked to the first two teams. The other Red Raider, guard Karla Tailele, also turned in a gutsy performance in the title game and made the Star-Bulletin's second team.

"It was evident that for us to make it as far as we did that we couldn't have done it without Karla," Anae said.

All you need to know for proof is that Tailele's severely sprained ankle kept her out of the first half of the title game. Without her in there, Kahuku trailed the Wildcats 30-10 at the intermission.

But Tailele ignored the pain and played the second half as the Raiders roared back.

Aside from Wily and Player of the Year Nancy Hoist of Konawaena, three others were picked to the Star-Bulletin's first team -- guards Shanna-Lei Dacanay of Punahou and Kami Kapaku of Baldwin, and Wildcats forward Jessica Hanato.

A junior, Dacanay was a Jill-of-all-trades for the Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion Buffanblu.

"She had to bring the ball down, play tough defense and make a lot of shots," Punahou coach Mike Taylor said. "She's multi-talented and she made herself into a great player."

Taylor is one of many coaches statewide who was highly impressed with Kapaku, the Maui Interscholastic League's Player of the Year for the second year in a row. She led the Bears to the MIL championship and a fourth-place showing at the states.

"Kami is another good overall player," Taylor said. "She has a quick first step and she makes great decisions. She knows when to drive or when to step back and take a 3-pointer or a jumper. And she's a great ball-handler."

Hanato, a hard-nosed competitor, also has many finely tuned skills.

"She was our best defensive player," Awa said. "If she wasn't doing the stopping, she was doing her job so well that it helped to make it easier for somebody else to make a stop. If she wasn't our leading rebounder in games, she would be the second-leading rebounder. She would get five or six steals a game and she knew how to put the ball into the right person's hands."

Konawaena led all Hawaii high schools with three players chosen to the first, second or third teams. Freshman forward Jazzmin Williams made the third team.

Aside from Kahuku, Iolani and Punahou also placed two players on the All-State lists.

Guard Christine Takara -- Dacanay's Buffanblu teammate -- was chosen to the second team.

Two third-teamers were picked from the Raiders -- guard Hennasea-Sue Tokumura and forward Ginger Gravelle.