Imani Wimbush had 20 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks as Radford fought off Kalani 54-39 to capture the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Conference girls championship last night.
"We had to settle down," Wimbush said of Kalani’s amazing third-quarter rally that cut the lead from 16 down to one point. "It was a new game, 0-0. You don’t take anything for granted.
Radford (16-2) finished OIA play unbeaten at 14-0 and claimed a seeded berth for the state tournament, but it wasn’t easy in the third meeting of the season with Kalani.
"When they’re down, they fight back," Radford coach Tani Dutro said of Kalani. "The (TV) timeouts helped. We’ll celebrate tonight and get ready for states. It feels surreal right now."
A frenzied crowd of about 800 at Mililani High School gym watched as Wimbush dominated the paint and came through with 7-for-9 shooting from the foul line as the Lady Rams broke open a close game in the fourth quarter.
Forward Kelsey Bush added 11 points, and point guard Rachel Kapesi dished six assists and hit three key foul shots in the final quarter. Johnson added 10 rebounds.
Corie Kuia, who came into the game with a 22.8 scoring average, led coach Henri Aylward’s Falcons (13-5) with 12 points. Kalani had tested Radford well in their playoff game last week, losing 58-53.
A Kalani win last night would have given Radford its first loss in the double-elimination tournament, but the Lady Falcons ran out of gas after rallying from that huge deficit. Kalani trailed 19-3 to start the game, but harassed Radford into 31 turnovers in all. Rose Alama had three steals in the third quarter to spark the Lady Falcons, who got eight points from Alex Rogers and a layup by Kristi Belshe late in the period.
After Taylor Murai and Kuia drove for buckets off Radford turnovers, Kalani trailed 33-32 going into the fourth quarter.
That’s when Radford regained momentum. Korie Johnson and Wimbush combined for seven points in a 9-0 run to start the final quarter.
Kalani got within 43-39 on a 3-pointer by Kuia with 2:50 left, but Radford closed the game out with an 11-0 run.
In all, the Lady Rams were 13-for-20 from the foul line in the final quarter.
"Coach said it’s just tough ‘D.’ That’s what she taught us and we’re in shape. We run suicides daily," Kapesi said.
Wimbush, a 5-foot-10 junior, is thrilled about next week’s state tourney.
"I feel great. We’re ready. We gotta handle our business and go all the way," she said.
The win was Radford’s 14th in a row since a nonconference loss to Molokai on Nov. 13.
RADFORD–Faith Calimlim 0, Imani Wimbush 20, E’lexus Evans 2, Rachel Kapesi 5, Tyler Whitener 2, Kelsey Bash 11, Korie Johnson 6, Jemory Castro 6, Sanoe Tuitele 2.
KALANI–Kimberly Sakamoto 0, Carly Kakuda 2, Corie Kuia 12, Rose Alama 1, Haley Omiya 2, Taylor Murai 8, Alex Salas 0, Alex Rogers 8, Toetofi Taifai 0, Kristi Belshe 6, Kaiana Iaea 0, Tiani Maafala 0, Maria Petelo 0.
3-point goals–Radford 2 (Bash 2). Kalani 4 (Rogers 2, Kuia, Belshe).