Kamehameha turns back Kahuku for another rematch with Punahou
Right now would be a great time for the deja vu to end for Kamehameha.
The Warriors submitted a lockdown defensive effort in beating OIA champion Kahuku 5-1 in the semifinals of the Stanford Carr Development/HHSAA water polo championships on Friday. It was the third straight year of that matchup and result at that same stage in the tournament in the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex.
Now Kamehameha is the only team that can prevent a Punahou 10-peat; the all-ILH final is at 6 p.m. today.
The Buffanblu swept the ILH runner-up during the regular season and league playoffs.
“We played well and we’ve been getting better, Monday to Thursday, Thursday to today,” Warriors coach Randy Bart said. “So we’re playing the best we’ve played. Is it enough to beat Punahou? Who knows?”
Kahuku’s roadblock remained the same. Its problem — besides the Warriors’ stifling D — was it still couldn’t stop Payton Bosque. The Red Raiders dropped to 0-8 all-time against Kamehameha in states.
The stalwart Bosque scored three goals in each of the Warriors’ semifinal wins over the Red Raiders the past two years. Last year, her penalty shot midway through the fourth quarter served as the dagger in a 5-2 win.
She netted four this time and assisted on her team’s fifth, moving into third all-time in career state tournament (winners bracket) goals at 27. She has a record seven straight hat tricks in states.
“I think it’s my teammates. It’s a team sport for a reason,” said Bosque, who will play for UH next year. “They set me up for the goals. They set me up for defensive opportunities as well. So credit to them.”
The defensive plays were many for Kamehameha, which snuffed out Kahuku’s interior attack and forced contested shots from outside. That was behind stellar performances from goalkeeper Mikaila Ng and center defender Laakea Dedrick.
Dedrick focused on getting around Kahuku attackers and denying wing passes.
“(Ng) has got my back, whether I was ready or not for it,” Dedrick said. “She was there. I know I can always trust her, whether the shot’s coming from inside set or outside. She’s the wall.”
Ng, a junior, blockaded every shot sent her way in the second half.
“I was really nervous at first,” Ng said. “But I really had to make sure to get my head in the game and be focused on what I had to accomplish tonight. And just really be in the moment.”
Bosque was a force all over the pool. When she wasn’t scoring from the interior, she was blocking balls from the field and swimming into the goal effectively when Ng got ejected for one possession late in the game.
Bosque scored twice in the first quarter. The lead grew to 3-0 on a power play in the second on a Dedrick score from Bosque.
Kahuku’s goal came on a putback score from Grace Rittenhouse in the second. But Bosque extended the lead to four with scores from the interior, then on a power play in the third.
“They were in the right positions, body-wise, so they had the opportunity to have more balls stolen or take the advantages away from us,” Kahuku coach Larisa Luehrs said. “It’s just being aware. They’re pretty good about that.”
Luehrs appreciates seeing the same Kamehameha players grow year by year — the problem is they keep advancing past her team.
“It’s kind of bittersweet to have to keep playing them,” she said.
The Warriors know the feeling. They’ll try their utmost to avoid it today.
No. 1 Punahou 12, Roosevelt 4
The Rough Riders turned heads by striking first, only to see the nine-time defending champion Buffanblu assert themselves in the second quarter and improve to 35-0 all-time in states.
Buffanblu goalkeeper Haley Crabtree saved a penalty shot by April Gomes, denying the upstarts a chance to tie it at 2 going into the second quarter. It was 7-1 at halftime.
“That’s good for our guys,” Punahou coach Ken Smith said. “We didn’t lose our composure, kept chipping away and got the lead back. We knew (Roosevelt) would come out and play hard.”
After the opening goal by Taylor Brooks, Punahou held her scoreless the rest of the way. The senior went for nine in a quarterfinal win over Hawaii Prep.
Kaya Lee led Punahou with three goals, while Dani Kauahi, Robbie Bickerton, Micaela Kauhane and Marissa Miller notched two apiece. Malia Gacutan added one.
Gomes had two goals and Rayna Miranda one for Roosevelt.
Fifth-place semifinals >> Baldwin 11, Kealakehe 4 >> Hawaii Prep 9, Lahainaluna 5