By JOE FERRARO
KEALAKEKUA — Their dominance on the offensive boards in the first half put them comfortably in control.
The Konawaena Wildcats followed that up with some hot second-half shooting that sealed a 3-0 record in their preseason girls basketball tournament at Onizuka Gymnasium.
Chanelle Molina scored 20 points, Courtney Kaupu and Ihi Victor added 14 apiece and Konawaena defeated Kalani 57-17 Saturday in the final day of the round-robin tournament.
Konawaena jumped out to a 14-3 lead with 4:43 remaining on the strength of four putbacks — two from the 5-foot-10 Kaupu and one each from the 5-8 Victor and the 5-6 Molina, who used their size advantage against a smaller Falcons team.
“We were shooting (well from the outside), but we were looking to go inside, too, because we had mismatches,” Molina said.
The work on the offensive glass helped offset 2-of-10 shooting from behind the 3-point arc in the first half, as the Wildcats took a 29-13 halftime advantage.
Konawaena went from ice-cold to red-hot in the third quarter, when they made 4 of 6 3-pointers and shot 50 percent from the field.
Victor scored the first eight points of the third period, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers. The Wildcats made eight 3-pointers overall, including four from Molina.
Konawaena coach Bobbie Awa, a proponent of high-percentage shots, acknowledged the team’s strong outside shooting but wants to see the team improve while running the fast break.
“We did a good job on the boards, but we didn’t do a good job in transition,” Awa said. “We need to push the ball up the court.
“We want to run and gun, but the girls don’t know their spots.”
Awa coached against one of her former players, 2005 Konawaena graduate Hina Kimitete who later became a 3-point specialist at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
Kimitete spent a year as an assistant coach at Kalani (0-3) before assuming the head coaching position this season.
“They give effort every time, and they fight until the end,” Kimitete said of the Falcons. “They have a positive attitude.”
However, when seeing Konawaena’s rebounding work, Kimitete discussed one important thing on her to-do list as a coach: getting the Falcons to become more physical.
Carly Kakuda led Kalani with six points.
“(We need to work on) boxing out, being aggressive and playing with composure when we’re up against more physical teams.”
While competing in the rugged Oahu Interscholastic Association, Kalani will face its fair share of physical teams.
“We’re going up against Farrington, Kahuku — the bigger teams,” Kimitete said. “The Kahuku guards are huge.”
Kimitete said she could have joined Awa’s staff at Konawaena after graduating from UH-Hilo in 2010 but wanted to land in a place that didn’t have readily available help — an “underdog school.” Once she got there, she thought, she wanted to offer education that went beyond strategy.
“I want to give back,” she said. “Not so much about the Xs and Os, it’s the hard work and discipline.”
Before getting to Kalani’s hardwood for practices and games, Kimitete works with autistic children as a skills trainer at Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary School.
“This is exactly what I wanted to do — help people,” she said.
Kalani 6 7 0 4 — 17
Konawaena 16 13 18 10 — 57