War­riors club Camp­bell to reach state quar­ter­fi­nals

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - SPORTS - By KEVIN JAKAHI

Wa­iakea was hit­ting on all cylin­ders, and Jazelle “Jazzie” Dorser had a King-sized break­out game with 21 points on 10 of 14 shoot­ing, get­ting her com­fort­able el­bow shots and show­ing her di­ver­sity with seven steals and five re­bounds.

The War­riors re­sem­bled ball-hawks and threw Camp­bell in a de­fen­sive wash­ing ma­chine in a 77-56 win in the first round of the HHSAA Divi­sion I tour­na­ment on Mon­day at their gym, in their first state ap­pear­ance since 2012.

That year, Wa­iakea lost to La­hainaluna 46-28 in the state quar­ter­fi­nals. Then there was a chang­ing of the guard in the BIIF. Well, one part at least, be­cause things have stayed the same for Kon­awaena, which con­tin­ues to dom­i­nate the land­scape.

Hilo, with a wave of young tal­ent, se­cured the BIIF run­ner-up spot for the next five years while the War­riors stayed home from states.

It’s their turn now with a ros­ter of no se­niors, four ju­niors, six sopho­mores, and three fresh­men, in­clud­ing the ver­sa­tile 5-foot-8 Dorser.

Wa­iakea (10-3) plays No. 4 seed and OIA cham­pion Kalani (11-2) in the quar­ter­fi­nals at 5 pm. Thurs­day at Moanalua High’s gym on Oahu.

No. 2 seed and 10-time BIIF cham­pion Kon­awaena (12-0) plays Moanalua (10-4) at 5 p.m. Thurs­day at McKin­ley High’s gym.

Zae­lynn Lui-Cabi­natan soared for layups and added 15 points on 7 of 11 shoot­ing, Keeli-Jade Smith had 13 points on 4 of 8 shoot­ing, and Kelsie Imai put in 12 points for Wa­iakea, which shot 51 per­cent (32 of 63) from the floor, in­clud­ing 2 of 9 from long range.

“We were hit­ting our shots, and Jazzie had a big game,” Wa­iakea coach Bran­don Kauhi said. “It’s the first time we played with­out Kelsie (who had foul trou­ble and played 24 min­utes), but oth­ers stepped up. We were able to at­tack and de­fend well.”

Un­like Wa­iakea, the Sabers (10-5) didn’t get bal­anced scor­ing, and Gieani Balino led the with way with 24 points on 8 of 19 shoot­ing while Danielle Silva added 12 points. Camp­bell shot 43 per­cent (21 of 49) on field goals, in­clud­ing 7 of 17 from 3-point dis­tance.

Free throws didn’t re­ally come into play. Wa­iakea went 7 of 17 and prob­a­bly could use more prac­tice be­fore head­ing to Oahu while Camp­bell was 11 of 18 from the line.

The War­riors ter­ror­ized the OIA Sabers with a 1-2-2 press and forced 33 turnovers, in­clud­ing 13 in the first quar­ter, and bolted to a 21-6 lead.

Dorser and Lui-Cabi­natan had 11 points each at half­time when the War­riors held a siz­able 39-25 cush­ion.

When Camp­bell threw over the top and mis­fired, Dorser and Smith played cor­ner­back and com­piled seven steals each. Imai had six steals and nine re­bounds, es­tab­lish­ing her pres­ence in the paint and perime­ter. The sopho­more point guard bombed 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.

The War­riors moved the ball with pre­ci­sion ball-shar­ing with 26 as­sists against 16 turnovers. Dorser had five as­sists, of­ten dish­ing to her part­ner in the post, Smith, while Keighsha Walker came off the bench and had five as­sists.

Dorser’s hot shoot­ing didn’t come by ac­ci­dent. The Wa­iakea coaches opened the gym on Sun­day, and there was Dorser work­ing on her el­bow shots, base­line jumpers, and up-and-un­der post moves. She knows of Bos­ton Celtics Hall of Famer Kevin McHale, the grand mas­ter of post moves.

“Jazzie put in extra time. She’s un­der­sized as a cen­ter, but she gets by with heart and ef­fort against taller girls,” Kauhi said.

Dorser is a deadly spot-up shooter be­cause she has con­sis­tent me­chan­ics with her catch-and-shoot. It’s not ev­ery day some­one shoots 71 per­cent on field goals. Dorser also went 1 of 1 from the free throw line, find­ing al­ter­na­tives to punc­ture the phys­i­cal Sabers.

“I just try to work hard ev­ery sin­gle time,” she said. “I think I could have done bet­ter. I tried to.”

Most of the War­riors play for coach Kauhi’s Hawaii Elite club team dur­ing the off­sea­son. Dorser plays with coach Randy Apele’s Hoop Dreams club team be­cause she came up through that pro­gram.

Dorser got her start in hoops the old-fash­ioned way. Her dad Justin Dorser, who played ball at St. Joseph, brought her along to pick-up games. Clay­ton Honma, sopho­more guard Bethany Honma’s dad, drafted her on his team, and Dorser took flight.

To build her tough­ness, her dad en­cour­aged her to play against boys. Dorser also was tu­tored by Ja­son Man­daquit, the Hilo ring­leader of the BIIF’s last Divi­sion I boys cham­pi­onship in 2000. She then joined Hoop Dreams.

If the blueprint of ball-shar­ing, tena­cious de­fense and team chem­istry built from club ball sounds fa­mil­iar, that’s be­cause Wa­iakea is fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Kon­awaena, the three-time de­fend­ing state cham­pion, which is fi­nally ag­ing out with key se­niors in Cher­i­lyn Molina, Mikayla Tablit, and Kawena Kao­hi­maunu.

The Lu­nas, from the Val­ley Isle, won a state ti­tle in 2010 and fin­ished sec­ond in 2014 and ’15. Mary­knoll, the ILH pow­er­house, has leapfrogged La­hainaluna and placed run­ner-up the last two years.

Whether Wa­iakea can crash that party re­mains to be seen. Should the War­riors take out Kalani, they’ll likely face the Mary­knoll Spar­tans, pow­ered by their scor­ing fire­power and trap­ping de­fense, in the semi­fi­nals.

For arm-chair quar­ter­backs who won­dered why Wa­iakea didn’t full-court press Kon­awaena in a 48-29 BIIF cham­pi­onship loss, the an­swer is sim­ple. That’s a death sen­tence against the Wild­cats, whose press-break of­fense has enough ball-han­dlers to pun­ish that gam­bling de­fense.

“Camp­bell has one guard, and Kon­awaena has three, and they’ve got re­ally good ball move­ment,” Kauhi said.

In a three-pos­ses­sion se­quence of fast-break beauty, Lui-Cabi­natan, Imai, and Dorser each scored a bucket at the end of the third quar­ter to put Wa­iakea ahead 58-37. First, Lui-Cabi­natan beat the Sabers down the court for a layup, then Imai out­ran ev­ery­one and swished a 3-ball, and fi­nally, Imai and Dorser did a re­lay run. Imai dished to Dorser, who eas­ily scored.

Asked her fa­vorite player, Dorser pointed to LeBron James, the cur­rent King of the NBA in the minds of many, a view­point that stretches all the way to Wa­iakea.

“He’s an all-around player,” she said. “He shoots and has post moves.”

Dorser didn’t take any 3-point at­tempts, but she took smart shots, re­bounded, dished as­sists, and made a good im­pres­sion of her fa­vorite player. Camp­bell 6 19 12 19 — 56 Wa­iakea 21 18 19 19 — 77


Wa­iakea’s Keeli-Jade Smith puts up a shot in the lane Mon­day dur­ing the War­riors’ 77-56 vic­tory against Camp­bell in a state first-round win at their gym. Smith scored 13 points.


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