The ‘Iolani Varsity Girls Basketball team raced to a record-breaking finish at the 2019 ‘Iolani Classic, placing third in a field populated by numerous highly regarded mainland foes. Saturday’s victory over South Medford (OR) clinched the Raiders’ best ever finish in the prestigious high school tournament. The defending state champions showcased their skill and grit over the course of the three-day affair, thrashing Radford, putting a scare into nationally-ranked Mater Dei, and outclassing South Medford.
There was not much suspense involved in ‘Iolani’s opening game, throttling the Radford Rams in a 61-19 victory. In what was effectively a tune-up for the later rounds, the home team utilized their vaunted defense and balanced offense to pull away from the outset. Standout sisters Lily Wahinekapu ’21 and Jovi Lefotu ’22 led the way with 29 combined points. The one-sided affair saw a 44-point advantage accrued by the Raiders after only three quarters. The stellar showing set the stage for a highly-anticipated matchup with the nation’s 18th-ranked team, Mater Dei.
The Mater Dei Monarchs were able to hold on for a tightly-contested 60-57 victory, however. ‘Iolani employed a suffocating 2-3 zone on defense, a changeup from their usual sticky man-to-man scheme. The Raiders stifled the Monarchs’ attack by clogging the passing lanes and doing their best to contain a pair of post players both 6 feet and above. Quick double teams on the low block and hard closeouts on the perimeter made the Monarchs’ bevy of playmakers uncomfortable. ‘Iolani was able to take advantage of turnovers, turning defense into offense behind a steady stream of breakaway layups and three-pointers. The aforementioned sisters, Wahinekapu and Lefotu, once again posted stat lines of double-digit points each. Point guard Alexis Huntimer ’21 contributed nine points while masterfully controlling the pace of the game from her lead position. Ultimately, a few unfortunate bounces derailed the upset bid for the Raiders.
Looking to end the tournament on a high note, ‘Iolani took the floor for the final time against Oregon’s South Medford. A formidable foe in their own right, the Panthers challenged the state’s top-ranked team in the early stages before faltering against the Raiders’ relentless pressure. Continuing to play their newly minted matchup zone, Iolani pulled away for a 75-52 victory on the final day of the Girls’ ‘Iolani Classic. Four players reached double-digits (Wahinekapu with 17, Kyra Tanabe ’21 with 14, Lefotu with 13, and Alexsandra Huntimer ’21 with 10) as the team consistently kept their eyes downcourt to execute many long outlet passes for easy scores. The Raiders also thrived inside, getting to the free-throw line 25 times in their largest scoring output of the event.
There is little time to rest for ‘Iolani, now 11-1, as they face off against the Maryknoll Spartans on Tuesday, December 17. Be sure to cheer for the Raiders tomorrow as they embark on a journey for another state champion title!