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Wildcats Sports

WHT Semi Finals vs Farrington

Posted Friday, February 27, 2009 by Bobbie Awa
Final frontier
Wildcats on cusp of state crown
by Joe Ferraro
West Hawaii Today
Friday, February 27, 2009 8:44 AM HST
HONOLULU -- The shots kept clanging off the rim in the first half, and freshman Lia Galdeira kept shooting. Konawaena is happy she did Thursday at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.

Galdeira scored 13 of her game-high 18 points in the second half, and the Wildcats' athleticism trumped Farrington's muscle in a 51-43 state semifinal victory in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I Girls Basketball State Championships.

Konawaena (14-0) will shoot for its third state title in six years at 7 p.m. Friday, when they play tournament No. 1 seed and defending state champion Punahou (13-1) at Blaisdell Center.

The Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Wildcats will enter the game having been seriously tested for the first time all season. Prior to their game against the Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Governors, Konawaena had never trailed at halftime.

"That's the kind of game we need,'' Wildcats coach Bobbie Awa said.

Farrington led 26-23 at the intermission. Galdeira went 2-for-8 from the field, and Konawaena shot just 26 percent as a team.

"I never had my rhythm,'' Galdeira said. "Once I get my rhythm, I've got it.''

She got it in the second half.

The freshman's 3-pointer from the left wing gave Konawaena a 28-26 lead with 6 minutes, 51 seconds left in the third quarter.

More importantly, she grabbed a key offensive rebound off senior forward Kim Brown's missed free throw with 1:15 left in the game and made a layup while being fouled. Galdeira hit her free throw to give the Wildcats a 47-41 lead.

"(In the second half) I told myself to keep my head up and not sulk on the bench,'' Galdeira said.

Galdeira and the Wildcats succeeded against the Governors by creating mismatches pitting Konawaena's quickness against Farrington's size for easy layups.

Freshmen Dawnyelle Awa and Makayla Awa (seven points), both exploited their speed for key baskets in the second half.

"I was hoping we were going to get some sort of mismatch, and we did,'' Bobbie Awa said.

Wildcat sophomore Thea Hanato-Smith added eight points.

Defensively, the Wildcats double-teamed the Governors' potent post players -- 5-foot-11 sophomore forward Kirsten Liana (eight points), 6-0 junior center Sofia Folaumahina and 5-11 junior center Janelle Nance -- daring Farrington to shoot from the perimeter. The strategy worked.

"We had to front them, and if we fronted them, they didn't have anything,'' Galdeira said.

Sophomore Brydgette Tatupu-Leopoldo, who led Farrington with nine points, hit two 3-pointers in the first 2 minutes of the first half. However, the Governors went 0-for-9 from behind the arc in the second half.

Konawaena shot just as poorly in the first half, missing four layups. However, the Wildcats stayed within striking distance with some good work on the boards.

Playing against a big Farrington front line, Brown had seven offensive boards, and she turned three of them into baskets.

Against Punahou on Friday, the Wildcats plan to use the same uptempo style of play that has gotten them to this point.

"We're going to play our game,'' Galdeira said.

At Neal Blaisdell Center

Farrington 10 16 5 12 -- 43

Konawaena 12 11 11 11 -- 51

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