If Garrett Arima’s halftime speech got emotional, it’s because Kamehameha wasn’t following the plan. With a sense of urgency in his voice, Arima pleaded with his girls basketball team.
His message was to relentlessly attack the post, and the Warriors responded with ruthless efficiency to set up an all-Big Island Interscholastic Federation title game at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division II tournament.
Casey Poe scored 20 points and grabbed eight rebounds, and Riana Arima added 16 as Kamehameha overtook Hawaii Baptist 55-44 in the semifinals at Kaimuki Gym in Honolulu, reaching its eighth final in the past 10 years.
“Closer than the score,” Arima said. “Second half, we made adjustments. Our game plan was to hit the post. They couldn’t defend us inside. We weren’t as aggressive to the basket as we needed to be.
“Priority was the post. Nothing outside. We hit the post, we score, gained the lead.”
Kamehameha (12-4) shot 56.3 percent, including 11 of 15 in the second half.
Honokaa ended the Warriors’ six-year reign atop the BIIF last weekend, but Kamehameha still can hold on to its state title and earn a threepeat when it takes on the Dragons at 7 p.m. today at Blaisdell Center. The game can be heard on 850 AM in East Hawaii/790 in West Hawaii.
The Eagles (10-1) led 19-18 at halftime, but Poe hit a jumper to open the third quarter and Kamehameha never trailed again. Riana Arima made three baskets and scored seven points in the quarter as the lead grew to nine.
Poe was 7 of 12 from the field and 6 of 9 from the line, Arima grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds and Makamae Gabriel scored 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field.
“We really did a good job of adjusting well and spreading it out to work harder to get shots,” Garrett Arima said.
He was proud of the way his team made the seamless transition from facing rugged Farrington in the quarterfinals, and then guard-heavy HBA in the semis.
Arima shortened his bench, and Caitlin Poe (six points) was the only other Warrior to score.
“Thirty-two minutes of tough, hard basketball,” he said. “Last night was protect the post; tonight, protect the perimeter. They responded.”
Rylie Wada finished with 21 points for the Eagles (10-1). The Interscholastic League of Honolulu champions were held to 33.3 percent shooting.
In the final 2:22 of the game, the Warriors were 11 of 12 from the free-throw line, with Arima going 5 of 6.
Now, Kamehameha must contend with the inside-outside threat of a deep Honokaa team that has three wins over the Warriors this season. One of the victories came in the preseason, and the Dragons (13-2) scored a 54-32 runaway win in the league final.
“We definitely need to take care of the ball,” Arima said. “Honokaa is tough defensively and very physical.
“We’re going to make some good adjustments. Can’t tell you what they are. Our backs are against the wall.”