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Christina Yasutomi

The girls basketball team won the state championship on February 9. Front/Bottom (L-R):  Julianne Lau, junior; Caitlin Ching, senior; Alexis Dang, junior; Kalena Montgomery, senior; Grace Takushi, freshman; and Nicole Arakaki, senior. Back/Top (L-R):  Haley Taka, freshman; Cyndi Yoshida, junior; Sasha Phillip, junior; Kyley Nakagawa, senior; Kaimilani Duncklee, junior; Zoe Lorica, freshman; Brianne Pascua, ninth grader; Alexia Sanchez, senior; and Emi Wada, freshman. Photo courtesy of CJ Caraang for Scoring Live.

The HBA girls basketball team can call itself a state champion once again.

HBA defeated Seabury Hall 43-39 on February 9 at the Stan Sheriff Center on the UH-Manoa campus to claim the 2019 Snapple / HHSAA Division 2 State Championship. It is the program’s first title since 2016 and second overall.

The Eagles, ILH Champions, entered the tournament as the top seed. The MIL Champion Spartans were seeded second.

The Eagles made the championship final by defeating Farrington 50-29 in the quarter-finals, then handling a young, but very talented Waimea team in the semi-finals 56-47.

The championship game against another young and talented squad, Seabury Hall, was back and forth affair, with both teams trading runs and the game featuring several lead changes.

HBA started quickly, jumping out to a 10-2 lead with field goals made by four of the five Eagles’ starters. However, Seabury Hall answered with a 10-0 run – sparked by three-pointers from freshmen Brittlay Carillo and Pio Tu'ivai – to close the first quarter with a 14-12 lead.

Freshman Hayley Taka’s third made shot and a three-pointer by junior Lexi Dang regained the lead for HBA at 17-14. The lead changed hands four more times before halftime, with the Eagles leading 21-20 at the break.

Junior Sasha Phillip made a three-pointer and then a traditional three-point play to open the third quarter to extend HBA’s lead to 27-20. But Seabury Hall freshmen Pio Tu’ivai drained two more treys to keep her team close. Dang made a running jump shot to close the quarter and give HBA a 35-32 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Taka made a baseline shot with 1:23 remaining in the game to put the Eagles seemingly in control with a 41-34 lead. However, Carillo quickly responded with a layup while being fouled by Taka. She converted the free throw to draw the Spartans to 41-37. After a missed jumper by Dang and a turnover by senior Kyley Nakagawa, Seabury Hall freshman Leela Waterford made a short jumper to cut the deficit to two points (41-39) with 56 seconds left. Nakagawa made one of two free throws to put HBA up three. Then Dang stole a Spartans inbounds pass and made one of two free throws with 10.2 seconds left to seal the victory.

The Eagles played man-to-man defense throughout the game despite a significant size disadvantage in the post.  Taka, Phillip, senior Kalena Montgomery and junior Ka'imi Duncklee rotated to collectively cover Seabury Hall's Tu'ivai sisters, freshman Pio and junior Anau.

Leading the way individually for HBA was Dang, who had 12 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Taka had 10 points, 9 rebounds and 3 steals. Nakagawa contributed 9 points and 7 rebounds and Phillip added 8 points and 7 rebounds. Dang was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, while Nakagawa joined her on the All-Tourney team.

Congratulations, Eagles!