HHSAA Girls Basketball
Raiders clamp down on Lunas for fifth-straight title game appearance


Thu, Feb 8, 2024 @ McKinley

Final 1 2 3 4  
Lahainaluna (12-1, 14-7) 7 9131544
Iolani (9-0, 23-2) 20 9 13 1759
H. Fernandez 16 pts  4 3pm  0/1 FTs
L. Donez 24 pts  1 3pm  3/4 FTs
M. Sake 9 tot  2 off  7 def
M. Faleta 9 tot  1 off  8 def
M. Frye 3 ast
F. Tasini 3 ast

KAKAAKO—The drive for five is still alive.

After a nail biting finish in the quarterfinal round against Campbell, top seed and ranked Iolani started off strong and blanketed fourth-seed and No. 10 Lahainaluna, 59-44, in the HHSAA/Heide & Cook Division I Girls Basketball State Championships semifinals at McKinley's Student Council Gymnasium.

The Raiders reach the title game for the fifth-straight season and will go for its fifth straight koa trophy, ninth-overall.

Lola Donez, who put the tournament on notice with a record-breaking 41-point performance against Waiakea, was held to 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

Iolani threw different defenders at her. Justice Kekauoha, Mia Frye, and Chelsea Lee took turns guarding the overall leading scorer in Division I. Keiki McGee and sometimes Hailey Fernandez, would come from the backside and help double.

"Our plan was that every time she got the ball, we would double her so she would kick out to somebody else. She was the key person so we had to stop her," Kekauoha said.

"If we weren't guarding her or Juseana Rae (Delatori), we would have to help more. I had to run and help from the backside," McGee added.

Fernandez, who scored two against Campbell, erupted and led the Raiders with 16 points. Mia Frye and Justice Kekauoha each added 12.

McGee added nine points off of three 3-pointers and is making the most of the her final state tournament run after missing it last year.

"I got injured right before. I'm excited. I tore the lining of my calf and twisted my ankle and couldn't put any pressure so I had to sit out," McGee said.

Iolani broke open the first quarter on a 12-0 run that included a pair of 3s from McGee and Fernandez, who was 4 for 7 from the perimeter.

Donez got the Lunas on the board with a baseline drive at the 3:17 mark, but Fernandez uncorked another triple.

"It was our energy, I felt like we had to tell ourselves we have to pick it up and come out hard and the energy was there," Kekauoha said.

"It was yesterday's game that hyped us up more since we came out really flat how we usually would want to. We wanted to make sure we did not have a fourth quarter comeback again. It was everyone cheering each other on," McGee said.

McGee hit another 3-pointer as Iolani shot 7 of 16 from the field and was 4 for 10 from 3 in the first quarter. Donez hit a pair of free throws to trail, 20-7 going into the second.

Mele Sake scored in transition from McGee's pass and Fernandez skipped it to Kekauoha, who splashed a wing 3 to make it, 25-7.

Juseana Rae Delatori, who was the next leading Luna scorer with 16 points, scored the first points of the quarter with free throws at the 4:07 mark. Callie Pieper scored off a backdoor cut from Frye before Lahainaluna strung together a mini scoring run.

Delatori hit a 3-pointer and was fouled in transition but could not convert the free throw. Donez had a steal and layup to trail by 11, but Kekauoha scored for a 29-16 lead at halftime.

"We knew she was a shooter so we had to adjust from that," Kekauoha said.

The Lunas shot 5 for 23 from the field but shot 11 for 19 in the second half to finish 38.1 percent from the field for the game.

McGee extended the lead to 18 with her third 3-pointer and Donez answered scoring off a baseline inbound. Mata Faleta got in the score sheet after Donez found her. Frye and Kanoe Hanohano split free throws to maintain a 18-point cushion.

Donez scored off a backdoor and hit a 3-pointer with 35 ticks to go as the Lunas trimmed the deficit down to 13 heading into the fourth.

Donez scored off a steal and layup to open the fourth and her jumper got Lahainaluna within 10. Fernandez added a layup after Frye's steal and score off another layup to extend the lead back to 15. Frye and Kekauoha hit jumpers for a 16-point lead. Delatori hit a 3-pointer to make it, 52-39 with 2:25 to go but could not get any closer.

Iolani held a slim 29-28 advantage on the boards and won the turnover battle committing 12 turnovers to Lahainaluna's 20.

"We were pressing a lot of the game which was our coaches call. We wanted to make them run and when they were tired and getting gassed, that's when we could get turnovers and interceptions. We just ran, they make us run in practice and this was the moment," McGee said.

This was the ninth-overall meeting, first meeting between the two teams in the semifinals in the state tournament. Iolani is 8-1 against Lahainaluna and its only loss came in the 2018 quarterfinal round.

The Lunas were seeking its first state title game appearance since 2015.

Reach Brandon Ching at [email protected].

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