Kaimuki hits from afar to tip Kalani, earn top seed

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - SPORTS - By Paul Honda phonda@starad­ver­tiser.com

The script seems the same ev­ery night for the Kaimuki Bull­dogs.

Bat­tle, scrap, stay close and rain 3s un­til they start drop­ping. The Bull­dogs hit 10 3-point­ers, in­clud­ing six in the third quar­ter, to pull away for a 58-42 win over Kalani on Fri­day night at Kaimuki’s gym.

The win sealed the top seed in the Oahu In­ter­scholas­tic As­so­ci­a­tion East, which also gave Kaimuki (8-1) a firstround bye in the Divi­sion I play­offs. The Bull­dogs were re­lent­less de­fen­sively, lim­it­ing Kalani to 5-for-28 shoot­ing from the arc.

“That’s a to­tally new de­fense, so some­times we were lost. Kalani is kind of a mir­ror of us with great shoot­ers,” Bull­dogs coach Mona Fa‘asoa said. “They’re a great team.”

A se­nior-night crowd went crazy dur­ing the third when Kae­lyn Espinda hit four tri­fec­tas in a row. With So­nia Pa­lik and Sirena Titer also hit­ting triples, the Bull­dogs went on a 19-6 run for a com­mand­ing 44-28 lead late in the third.

Two free throws by Espinda, a sopho­more guard, ex­tended the lead to 18 af­ter three quar­ters. Espinda fin­ished with a game-high 20 points, in­clud­ing 6-for-6 shoot­ing at the foul line. Se­nior Vic­to­ria Kintz tal­lied 19 points, eight re­bounds and four blocks. Pa­lik fin­ished with eight points and 12 re­bounds, and Titer had eight points.

Kalani, which fin­ished reg­u­lar-sea­son play 6-3, en­ters the Divi­sion II play­offs next. Kirstin Kouchi scored all 10 of her points in the fourth quar­ter to lead the Lady Fal­cons. Heidi Kishaba added nine points and Dae­sha

Viela had eight.

“They hit the shots. You’ve got to give them credit,” Kalani coach Chi Mok said of the Bull­dogs. “I don’t know if we’ll see bet­ter shoot­ers un­til states.”

Kaimuki out­re­bounded Kalani 36-25. In all, the Bull­dogs shot 10-for-24 from 3-point range, the same num­ber of makes and at­tempts from deep that they had in a big road win at Kahuku ear­lier in the week.

For Kintz and the se­niors, win­ning the East added to the postgame se­nior cel­e­bra­tion. Each se­nior thanked her par­ents. Kintz had an ex­tra word for Fa‘asoa, who also re­ceived cer­tifi­cates of recog­ni­tion a mo­ment ear­lier from Gov.

Ige and the State Leg­is­la­ture.

“Aun­tie Mona, thank you,” Kintz said. “When I got cut from Mid-Pa­cific var­sity (as a fresh­man), you gave me back my love for the game.”

Kaimuki ex­ploded to a 10-1 lead in the open­ing min­utes, and Kouchi got into early foul trou­ble. The visi­tors switched to a zone and ral­lied to take a 13-12 lead on a wing 3 by Kishaba. There were four lead changes in all dur­ing the se­cond quar­ter. Titer’s cor­ner 3 on a fast break gave Kaimuki a 23-20 lead go­ing into the break.

Then came the avalanche of 3s by the ’Dogs.

“Our bigs were late get­ting out to the cor­ners,” Mok said.

CINDY ELLEN RUS­SELL / CRUSSELL@STARAD­VER­TISER.COM

Kaimuki’s Vic­to­ria Kintz thwarted Kalani’s Kristin Kouchi as she went to the bas­ket in the se­cond half.

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