Punahou was splendid as it blended sports to take home its sixth straight Stanford Carr Development/HHSAA Girls Water Polo State Championship.
After going down a goal to Kahuku in the first quarter, the Buffanblu turned to their peerless experience and versatile talent to regain the lead and prevail 8-4 over the Red Raiders before a crowd of about 500 at the Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex on Friday night.
Punahou now owns eight of 10 state water polo titles.
Coach Ken Smith dug up an assist to volleyball coach Peter Balding for this one.
"One thing he really instilled in his teams are fundamentals, discipline, and unselfish play. And I really learned that from him," Smith said. "It’s been something we’ve really pushed for. And I think these guys really exemplify that."
GIRLS WATER POLO STATE TOURNAMENT
At Duke Kahanamoku Aquatic Complex
Kaiser 7, Mililani 4
KS-Hawaii 18, Baldwin 4
‘Iolani 8, Kapolei 6
Punahou 8, Kahuku 4
ALL TOURNAMENT TEAM
Doran Bosque, Kapolei
Punahou’s offensive and defensive leaders both excelled in other arenas.
Senior Turner Wong, the Buffanblu basketball point guard, earned Most Outstanding Player honors after scoring five goals, including three in a decisive third quarter. And junior goalkeeper Keaupono Fey, a three-sport athlete, lived up to personal expectations that she would pick up where departed standout keeper Courtney Miller left off after last season.
Wong credited hole set Lauren Boyer with occupying the Red Raiders’ attention in the center, allowing her to strike from distance, like she would a basketball 3-point shot, or circulate the ball quickly.
"I don’t have the strongest legs, I’m not the fastest arm, but I take pride in my vision in the pool," Wong said. "And so as soon as I get the pass, I look for my open teammates and try to set them up for success."
Fey, who plays volleyball and basketball, could finally breathe easy with her own success in the pool.
"It means the world to me. Courtney’s such a great leader and such a great player before me," Fey said. "So I feel like I was so nervous before this game, and just thinking about it all through school. I focused on the game all day. I kept thinking about what I could do to stay focused and stay energized throughout the entire game."
The Buffanblu (9-0) found themselves in an unusual situation when Kahuku’s Ellie Williams scored from the hole set for a 3-2 lead at the end of the first.
But a fullcourt press of sorts helped them draw even, then go ahead. Kahuku struggled to cleanly advance the ball past the middle of the pool when the Buffanblu turned up the pressure. Punahou led 5-3 at the break.
Kahuku (17-1), the Oahu Interscholastic Association champion, was gunning for the OIA’s first state water polo crown, but fell to 0-4 in title games. It was often forced to rush its shots playing from behind.
Coach Makana Leiataua felt her team had spent much of its energy holding off ‘Iolani in a landmark semifinal win the night before.
"When you play an ILH team, you cannot play catch-up," Leiataua said. "You have to come out and get a couple goals ahead and hold it to even have a chance. But I think they held their heads up high, they kept pushing ’til the end. And I’m proud of them."
The future is bright for Kahuku. Twins Nohea and Kahea Kahaulelio (three combined goals) will be juniors next year. The biggest task is replacing senior goalkeeper Kayla Chang, who had 14 saves — several outstanding — in the title game.
Goal scorers—Punahou: Turner Wong 5, Roxy Kiessling 1, Lauren Boyer 1, Caitlin Kaneshiro 1. Kahuku: Ellie Williams 1, Kahea Kahulelio 1, Noehea Kahaulelio 2.
‘Iolani 8, Kapolei 6
Goal scorers—Kapolei: Leilani Herrera 2, Ashley Fuerst 2, Kayla Lanier 1, Doran Bosque 1. ‘Iolani: Taryn Arandor 2, Mollie Taylor 1, Elizabeth Barr 4, Kiana Harpstrite 1.
Kamehameha-Hawaii 18, Baldwin 4
Goals scorers—KS-Hawaii: Kaitlyn Kubo 2, Acacia Trusdell 3, Sydney Plunkett 7, Michelle Fratinardo 2, Chloe Martins-Keliihoomalu 1, Paula Imoto 2, Halia Nahale-a 1. Baldwin: Christina Patao-Torres 1, Alea Weber 2, Deme DeShayne 1
Kaiser 7, Mililani 4
Goal scorers—Mililani: Chole Long 2, Chanel Long 1, Kylie Tom 1. Kaiser: Kaiana Peneku 3, Kira Fox 1, Jessie Watkins 2, Corrine Shigeta 1