LAHAINA - It will go down as the most exciting night of high school basketball ever played at the Lahaina Civic Center.
The top-seeded Lady Lunas of Lahainaluna High School (15-0) on Saturday hung on to pull out a thrilling 61-57 win over a game Maryknoll Spartan (10-4) team before a near-capacity crowd in the quarterfinal contest of the 2014 Hawaiian Airlines Division I Girls State Championship Tournament at the LCC.
The event marked a format change for the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, as this was the first time that the Neighbor Islands hosted a state championship playoff game, and the home crowd surely benefited the Lady Lunas on a subpar performance night for the state's number one-ranked program.
The Lahainaluna High School girls basketball team celebrates after beating the Maryknoll Spartans 61-57 in the quarterfinal contest of the 2014 Hawaiian Airlines Division I Girls State Championship Tournament on Saturday night at Lahaina Civic Center. The top-seeded Lady Lunas will travel to Honolulu this week to face Hilo in the state semifinals on Friday at McKinley High School. PHOTO BY MONICA CHIHARA.
Lahainaluna turned over the ball 30 times, committed 30 fouls, missed countless shots from within two feet of the basket and converted but 48 percent of their free throw attempts.
Still, the Lady Lunas - saved by the sharpshooting of Taylor and Lindsay Bates, and the team's relentless, full-court pressure defense - held the lead for most of the game.
The Lady Luna lead reached ten points midway through the third quarter, but Maryknoll fought back, aided by a foul frenzy that sent four Lahainaluna players to the bench until the last five minutes of the game.
The Spartans of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu kept scrapping to pull within four with 38 seconds left to play, when the Lady Lunas turned the ball over again and a short jumper cut the lead the two.
The crowd groaned again as Lahainaluna threw the ball away to give the Spartans a last shot to tie or take the lead. After a Spartan timeout, the Lady Lunas' defense forced a deep shot that banged off the rim, and the rebound was grabbed by Folau Hafoka to the delight of the Red Tide fans. Loke Basques Rosenthal was fouled and sank two free throws for the final margin of the game.
Lindsay Bates scored 16 points to lead the Lady Luna offensive effort, followed by Taylor Bates with 12, Folau Hafoka with eight (and eight rebounds), Fiemea Hafoka (eight points), Loke Basques Rosenthal (six), Cameron Fernandez (four), Mina Faaumu (three) and Aloha Salem (three).
Lahainaluna will now travel to Honolulu this week to face Hilo in the state semifinals on Friday at McKinley High School.