Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Battle of the REDS: LAHAINALUNA 50, Kahuku 43 - November 26, 2011

Lahainaluna and Kahuku. Two schools with many things in common. Red is the team color. Lunas for Life or Red Raiders for Life is a common theme on t-shirts and banners. High schools located in isolated communities: Lahainaluna - the only major high school on the west side of Maui, and Kahuku, the only high school on the North Shore of Oahu. Each school the pride of their respective communities. Each school with a tremendous following that travel well to games, no matter where it is being played. Each school with a strong Polynesian (Tongan/Samoan) population, and many athletes from those islands. Two standout Lahaina youth athletes, Kaniela Tuipulotu and Tevita Finau, started their freshman year at Lahainaluna before transferring to Kahuku as upperclassmen, each becoming all-state selections in football and playing at the Division I level. Two schools with rich athletic histories and successes.

This natural, yet friendly rivaly, was on display at Lahainaluna gym as the Lady Lunas took on the Lady Red Raiders of Kahuku in the final game of Lahainaluna's Thanksgiving girls basketball tournament. Kahuku had size and strength. Lahainaluna had some size, but a lot of speed and quickness. Both teams had a lot of experience in the HHSAA state tournaments. Which style and which team would win this battle?

The Lunas got off to a fast start, taking a 4-0 lead. Then the Red Raiders struck back, eventually taking a 15-8 lead after one quarter. It was not looking good. Kahuku was having it's way inside.

Rather than go big, the Lunas went small for the second quarter and it paid off. Lindsay Bates shot a 3 from the corner and got fouled in the process. This gave Kahuku's big girl her second foul of the game and she would spend the rest of the game in foul trouble. Lindsay sank the free throw for the four point play, making it 15-12.

Then twin sister Taylor Bates drained a three from the same spot, right in front of her grandparents. Suddenly, the score is tied.

The Lunas' trapping defense forces another turnover, which Taylor Bates turns in a bucket off a driving lay-up. Lunas up 17-15.

Overall, the Lunas went on 18-4 run to start the second quarter, extending the lead to 26-19 before the Red Raiders scored 7 unanswered points at the end of the quarter to tie the game up at halftime 26-26.

The second half was a tough, physical battle, but the Lunas, behind the inspired play of Lauese, Tuakoi and Lauvao pulled away and won 50-43.

Freshman guard Lindsay Bates led the Lunas with 11 points, followed by Petiola Tuakoi with 9 and Princess Lauvao with 6.

For more photos, click here.

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