By JOE FERRARO
KEALAKEKUA — With their full-court press keeping Honokaa from establishing any offensive rhythm, only cold shooting prevented the Lahainaluna Lunas from putting their preseason contest against the Dragons away Thursday at Konawaena.
Then the Lunas suddenly got hot, giving Honokaa no hope.
Lindsey Bates scored 13 points, Keleah Akio-Koloi added 11, and Lahainaluna went 6-for-6 from the field during a 13-0 third-quarter run en route to a 65-42 win in the first-round of Konawaena’s round-robin preseason girls basketball tournament.
Before the Lunas’ decisive run, Lahainaluna was shooting just 30 percent from the field (11-of-36) and only 25 percent from the free-throw line.
The Lunas then found their shooting touch, hitting three mid-range jumpers and a 3-pointer during the spurt, which gave Lahainaluna a 47-29 lead with 1 minute, 34 seconds remaining.
Aloha Salem scored five of her eight points during the run.
For the most part, Lahainaluna controlled the boards with the 5-foot-11 Akio-Koloi and 5-10 Petiola Tuakoi patrolling the lane.
With four freshmen and three sophomores on his team, Lunas coach Todd Rickard expects his team to improve as it gains more game experience.
“They’re just a young team,’’ Rickard said. “I know they’ll definitely get better.’’
Honokaa did well just to hang around despite senior guards Yvonne Daniels and Keana Kaohimaunu drawing three fouls apiece in the first quarter.
Also, junior guard Shemika Frazier didn’t play the entire first half because she missed practice time.
Honokaa had 21 turnovers in the first half — 31 for the game — yet pulled within 34-29 on junior Hunter Liftee’s elbow jumper with 4:11 remaining in the third.
“At least we know what we can work on,’’ Honokaa coach James Lukzen said when discussing Lahainaluna’s pressure defense.
Frazier led the team with nine points, sophomore Jasmine Castro added eight, Kaohimaunu chipped in seven, and Liftee had six.
Lukzen has shuffled his lineup from last year’s Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II runner-up team.
Castro, who played point guard last season, has moved to power forward. Meanwhile, freshman Kizzah Maltezo will take over at the point.
“We have to work on being consistent,” Lukzen said. “If we can be consistent, we’ll be all right.”