Kahuku outlasts Roosevelt in OT


Kahuku’s Sisilia Kaufusi shot over a trio of Roosevelt players, Mari Foster, left, Kaonohi Quinlan and Kanilehua Pitoy in the first half.

Sisilia Kaufusi had 19 points and 10 rebounds as Kahuku edged Roosevelt in overtime, 42-37, on Wednesday night at the Rough Riders’ gym.

Kahuku’s young squad improved to 3-0 in OIA East play. Roosevelt slipped to 1-2.

“We’re improving regardless of what rate. I’m proud of the way they stayed in the game mentally,” Kahuku coach Latoya Wily said. “They’re young and some of them haven’t been in an overtime (varsity) game, but they buckled down defensively.”

Kaufusi, a powerful 5-foot-11 junior, fouled out with 23.9 seconds left in regulation and her team still tied with Roosevelt at 37. Roosevelt then had a chance to score the go-ahead points, but Mari Foster missed a layup and a follow shot at the buzzer and the game went into overtime.

The teams exchanged turnovers to start the extra period before Naveah Pukahi sank a free throw to give Kahuku a 38-37 lead. Leah Naeata, who finished with 10 points, four boards and four assists, hit a foul shot with 38 seconds left to push the Lady Raiders’ lead to 39-37.

Roosevelt had a chance to tie the game, but Sadie Ann Luiz (12 points) missed a 1-and-1 with 14.6 seconds remaining. Naeata, Kahuku’s freshman floor general, added another free throw for a 40-37 lead with 12.1 ticks left. The Rough Riders had an opportunity to tie the game, but Sunshine Vicente drove to the basket and missed.

Naeata added two more charity shots with a half-second left for the final margin of victory.

It was a hearty effort by Roosevelt in light of the resignation of coach Chad Kaihe a little more than one week ago following an incident involving a parent. Athletic Director and former coach John Chung is the interim coach, back on the sideline for the first time in roughly a decade.

“The team gave their best effort and attitude in practice and in the game. That’s all we can ask for,” Chung said. “That’s two close games, so hopefully the wins come sooner or later.”

Kahuku zoomed to an 18-9 lead in the first half behind the smooth low-post moves of Kaufusi, who shot 8-for-15 from the field.

“We knew 15 (Kaufusi) and 20 (Naeata) would be tough. We tried to defend them,” Chung added. “They were well-prepared and coached, and they made some big shots.”

Haven Gabriel’s 12-foot baseline runner at the buzzer cut the lead to 23-19 at the half. The Rough Riders chipped away while Kaufusi sat with foul trouble and took the lead on a wing 3 in transition by Vicente (nine points, two steals, one block), 34-31.

The lead then changed hands three times with Kahuku taking a 37-36 lead on a layup by Ilaisaane Po‘oi with 1:45 to go in regulation. Foster’s hustle in the low post was a key in Roosevelt’s rally, and she hit a free throw with 55 seconds left to tie the game at 37.

Foster finished with seven points and two blocks.

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