HHSAA Girls Basketball
Iolani holds off Kamehameha in OT to win their fifth-straight state championship


Fri, Feb 9, 2024 @ Blaisdell

F/OT 1 2 3 4 OT  
Kamehameha (4-6, 17-8) 2 12616238
Iolani (9-0, 23-2) 10 13 2 11339
M. Frye 13 pts  1 3pm  0/2 FTs
N. Dunn 15 pts  3/4 FTs
M. Sake 9 tot  6 off  3 def
N. Dunn 10 tot  7 off  3 def
K. McGee 3 ast
M. Labanon 3 ast

HONOLULU — The drive for five is complete.

In a sixth and decisive meeting between the two teams, top ranked and seeded Iolani held off ILH foe and No. 3 Kamehameha-Kapalama, 39-38 in overtime, in the HHSAA/Heide & Cook Division I Girls Basketball Championship at Neal S. Blaisdell Center.

A crowd of 1,860 witness the Raiders (23-2 overall) sweep the Warriors (17-8 overall) to become the first team in state tournament history to win five-straight girls basketball state championships, their ninth overall.

"That's incredible. It's a testament to the girls who come through this program and who built the culture. They built a culture of championship DNA where these girls expect it. They believe it, they trust it, and expect to win every year. That's part of the culture now. Credit to the Iolani staff, the support they give us and the support they give the girls and the girls that come through the program," Iolani coach Dean Young said.

Despite a 4-6 record to finish the ILH, the Warriors' won by an average of 30 points in their three state tournament games and knocked out OIA champion Kahuku, 47-31, in the quarterfinals, and BIIF and last year's state runner up Konawaena, 52-35, in the semifinals.

"We lost to them five times in the regular season. This is the one we really wanted, we knew this is the one that mattered in the end. I think they were hungry for it. Once they got loose, they went after balls and got on the ground, I'm definitely proud of the effort and second half, they left it out all on the court. That's all we can ask, is the opportunity to be here, we're proud of them for making it this far," Kamehameha coach Pua Straight said.

Mia Frye, named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, led the Raiders with 13 points and hit a 3-pointer near the top of the arc to open the overtime period for the team's only made field goal. It was changed to a 2 but was later changed back and ruled a 3 to make it, 39-36.

The Warriors were 1 for 7 from the field in the overtime period as Kamaka Fonoti and Nihoa Dunn could not hit from down low. Frye could not hit a 3-point attempt and would turn it over, giving it back to the Warriors. Mikylah Labanon drove and found Fonoti on the block to make it, 39-38 with 50 seconds left.

"It was nerve wracking. When Mikylah got that dump off to Kamaka and she made it, it added a lot of pressure. But we had to stay together as a team, keep our heads in the right mindset and just be confident that we could win and we did win. I was proud of my team for keeping me together and holding me accountable and also keeping themselves accountable," Frye said.

Kamehameha had fouls to give and sent Justice Kekauoha to the line. She missed her free throws but Iolani got the ball back as Mele Sake grabbed the offensive rebound.

"Big players making big plays. That was a huge offensive rebound by Mele," Young said.

"Me and Callie talked it out on the line. We knew what we were going to do. I was thinking about this quote, ‘Offense sells tickets, defense wins games, and rebounding wins championships,' I think putting that into my head really helped," Sake said.

With 8 seconds left, Frye was fouled and she rimmed out both foul shots and Dunn secured the rebound.

Makenzie Alapai lofted a pass to Labanon, who was fouled by Keiki McGee. From the sideline, Labanon inbounded it to Rylee Paranada, who raced to the basket, but her layup attempt fell short as Iolani prevailed.

"We were really striving to get a stop. The hand check call out on the perimeter really hurt that reset the shot clock changed the trajectory what had to do. We had to foul. I wanted to see if we can get something in transition first cause sometimes that's easiest way to score instead of calling a timeout. Used my last time out, we got the look ahead up the court that we wanted. They gave that foul but couldn't score in those last 2 seconds," Straight explained.

"Really smart team defense at the end. We only had two team fouls, our players understood we were going to give two fouls on the drive. They executed it perfectly. Kamehameha ran out of timeouts so they couldn't really run anything with 2 or 3 seconds left. Our team really executed that well in the end," Young said.

Heide & Cook/HHSAA Girls Basketball State Championships

All-Tournament Team (as selected by the media and HHSAA)


Justice Kekauoha, Iolani

Nihoaokealii Dunn, Kamehameha

Lola Donez, Lahainaluna

Tavina Harris, Konawaena

Mele Sake, Iolani

Rylee Paranada, Kamehameha

Most Outstanding Player: Mia Frye, Iolani

McGee added eight points, two triples, and Sake scored seven points to go with nine boards despite foul trouble.

"I think it's very rewarding. No one pulled it off so I think to be the first to do it is rewarding and I'm grateful for it," Sake said of winning five straight titles. "I did get in foul trouble, but I think after picking up the fourth, I told myself to be disciplined, play solid defense and play straight up."

Kekauoha overcame a sprained ankle and gutted it out to finish with six points.

"When I first hurt it, it was really sore but then after a while when I was moving it, it felt better and couldn't feel the pain as much," Kekauoha said.

Dunn who had two double-double performances in four state tournament games, finished with 15 and 10 and Paranada had nine points and two 3-pointers, one that eventually sent Kamehameha into overtime. Makenzie Alapai continued her work on the glass and tallied nine rebounds.

Iolani's average margin of victory in the five ILH matchups with Kamehameha was 11.2 points. In the ILH final, the Warriors went up by eight in the third quarter, before Iolani rallied in the fourth. The Warriors were the only team that took Iolani to overtime this season.

"We played them five times already and each one was a battle. This is the sixth time we played the No. 2 team in the state. Every one got harder and harder. This one was the hardest," Young said.

Iolani opened the first quarter with a 10-2 lead, but at the 7:24 mark in the second quarter, Kekauoha went down as she landed on a player's foot and had to be helped off the floor.

"That was a huge loss, you know how important Justice is for our team. For her to go down, it was stressful, definitely some adversity. The beauty of it, as I was helping carrying Justice off the floor, the girls came on and were telling her, ‘We got you Justice, we got you. We're going to get this for you.' Even if she didn't come back, they were ready to carry it for her," Young said.

"They were telling me, they got this for me. It was a team thing and I think our chemistry was there. After seeing how hurt I was, I feel like they gained the energy and it started picking up," Kekauoha said.

In her absence, Kamehameha scored consecutive points in the paint from Fonoti and Dunn to get within four, but Iolani rattled off nine-straight points. Frye hit a floater, Sake drove it in and McGee hit a 3-pointer in the corner to go up, 19-6. Callie Pieper got in the score sheet as she hit a jumper to put the Raiders up 15.

The Warriors trimmed the lead down to 10 following Paranada's 3-pointer off Dunn's kick out and Dunn split a pair of free throws to trail, 23-14 going into halftime.

Iolani's only basket came off of Sake's points from the right block and went cold in the third quarter as they shot 1 for 9 from the field.

"We switched up our defense. We went into a zone to see if we could throw off their rhythm. We were successful in doing that, they weren't quite as comfortable in a zone. We tried our double big line up to see if we could get more offense. Offensively, we were struggling as well, seeing if we could get the ball in," Straight said.

Kamehameha did not fare any better and was 2 for 9 from the field and 2 for 6 from the free throw line. The Warriors got consecutive points from Dunn and Lebanon's drive brought Kamehameha within five heading into the fourth.

"Both teams were battling and it was physical and competing so hard. In the end it took incredible grit to pull that off," Young said.

Frye put Iolani up six with a jumper but Rylee Cabuyadao-Caswell cut it in half with a triple from the left wing. 3-point attempts did not fall for the Raiders and Labanon's drive brought the Warriors within 1.

Kamehameha capitalized on a turnover and Dunn cleaned up Fonoti's miss for a 29-28 lead. McGee reclaimed the lead with a 3-pointer and Sake added another to go up five. Dunn's reverse layup brought the Warriors back within one, but Kekauoha answered with a runner to go up three.

"For us when we get stops and an offensive rebound here or there. That's huge for us. When they score, to break that momentum is you have to match on that side. We had to try and see if we could get the ball in and match on that side," Straight said.

Paranada tied up the game at 36 with a 3-pointer from the right wing with a minute to go. Frye missed a jumper and Alapai secured the rebound. Both teams traded turnovers before Kamehameha got the ball back on the sideline near the scorer's table but could not get a clean look to send the game into overtime.

"We got this and we earned it and we worked so hard for this moment and we couldn't back down now," Kekauoha said.

Kamehameha outworked Iolani on the glass with a 37 to 25 margin.

The Warriors shot 15 of 51 (29.4 percent) from the field, 3 for 11 from 3, and was 5 of 12 (41.6 percent) from the free throw line.

The Raiders finished 16 of 43 (37.2 percent) from the field, was 4 of 17 from 3, and shot 3 for 8 from the charity stripe.

Kamehameha was seeking its first state title since 2013.

The last time the two teams met in the state final was in 2019. Iolani won, 52-49, which started their dynasty run.

Reach Brandon Ching at [email protected].

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