Mid-Pacific won its first HHSAA state girls basketball title Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Neal S. Blasidell Arena.
Posted on March 1, 2017 by Scot Allen
Mid-Pacific won its first Hawai'i High School Athletic Association (HHSAA) state girls basketball title Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Neal S. Blaisdell Arena. The win capped an unblemished 11-0 ILH season. During the state tournament, the Owls used the same up-tempo and smooth-shooting style to outdistance their opponents.
The owls defeated Kamehameha Schools-Hawai'i 63-38 in the title match. Mid-Pacific's Ciera Kameehonua sank six 3-pointers and scored 25 points. Harley Simon, the team's only senior, added 22 points.
"During the state tournament, we saw Brilie Kovaloff have an impressive individual tournament and watched Ciera Kameehonua catch fire during the championship game, but despite that, this team played an impressive team game - sharing the ball, communicating, and having fun," said Coach Sherice Ajifu, a 2005 graduate of Mid-Pacific.
The Owls cruised to a 82-30 win over Damien in the state quarterfinals and a 62-34 rout of OIA champion Kalani in the semi-finals.
"Our game plan never really changed from the moment we started," said Ajifu. "We came into the season excited about the possibility of competition for a title, but knew that it would take work and a commitment to improving our skills on a daily basis. We made adjustments to our opponents personnel, but ultimately we knew we wanted to be a team that played tough defense, scored easy buckets in transition, and who would execute a half court set."
The program has made great strides over the past two years, according to Athletic Director Scott Wagner. "Our Intermediate team at the time had a great deal of talent, and we were hoping to keep the momentum that they were creating."
Wagner hired Ajifu as head coach and made the move to Division II to allow the student-athletes to experience some success, and to bring some excitement back into the program. Fast forward to today: the Owls have succeeded, as Wagner puts it "exactly how we had hoped."
This year's team was able to taste success at every ILH conference game and was seeded as the number one team going in to the HHSAA state tournament.
"The coaching staff did an amazing job preparing the girls for the tournament, and the team was able to win all of their tournament games by a large margin, capturing Mid-Pacific's first state championship in school history," Wagner said. "The school community could not be more proud of the girls and the coaching staff. The girls played with the highest level of sportsmanship all year, and played as a team. It was a wildly successful season and tournament that has catapulted our school spirit and our confidence to continue to compete at a high level for years to come."
Next season will be another challenge as the team will be moving back to Division I competition. They will return nine members of this year's squad and are excited for the opportunity to compete against the best in the state.
"I'd personally like to thank our assistant coaches Tim Au, Kevin Kanekoa, Johnnelle Kapua '09, Jordan Kealoha '10, and Keri Nakamura '06 who worked tirelessly throughout the season and helped to breakdown film and prepare our scouting reports for the tournament," Ajifu said. "We'd also like to thank the numerous alumni came to practices to provide competition and simulate our opponents and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for preparing the team for the ILH Championship and State Championship. Thank you's to Scott Wagner, Adria Mendoza, Sean Aoyagi and the entire Athletic Department as well Mid-Pacific community and our fans for supporting and embracing this team."
Tournament All-Stars, Division II
Harley Simon, Mid-Pacific
Brilie Kovaloff, Mid-Pacific
Ciera Kameehonua, Mid-Pacific (Most Outstanding Player)