Cougars, Falcons Bringing Their Best To State Tourneys

For the Kaiser girls soccer and the Kalani girls basketball teams, no week is bigger than this one, as both will play in their respective state tournaments.

Previews of both teams are below.

Kaiser girls soccer

Record: 11-2 overall (9-1 season record in OIA Red)

Key wins: Over Moana-lua 2-1 Jan. 15, over Mi-lilani 1-0 Jan. 22, and over Kapolei 2-1 Jan. 23

What’s next: Pairings and game times for the Division I state championships were to be released Sunday night. The tournament runs Wednesday-Saturday at Waipio Pen insula Soccer Complex.

What to watch: Although the Cougars came up short in the recent OIA Red title game, they enter this week’s state tournament as one of the most dangerous teams in the field, having gotten just a couple of plays away from being undefeated through 13 games.

Kaiser’s loss to Pearl City in the OIA title game came on penalty kicks following a pair of overtime periods, and its only other loss came Dec. 28 when it dropped a 3-2 decision to Kahuku on the road.

A six-game win streak preceded that loss, and the Cougars responded by winning five straight, which included triumphs over West powers Mililani and Kapolei on back-to-back days. This enabled the Lady Cougars to reach the OIA finals.

Defense has been a cornerstone to Kaiser’s success, as the team has yielded just five goals all season during regulation time, two of which came in the late-December loss to Kahuku.

Offensive output also has been noteworthy. Indeed, Kaiser’s 56 goals currently rates third best in the state, behind Kamehameha and Mililani. It has seven players who have tallied at least three goals to date: Kai Hasegawa (13), Alicia Chang (9), Alea Amano

(7), Noelle Mercado (6), Skye Shodahl (4), Kailee Murray-Pasion (4) and Lina Takada (3).

Kalani girls basketball

Record: 5-5 versus OIA competition entering last week’s OIA Division II title game with Farrington; 12-12 overall, including preseason games

Key wins: Over Kalaheo 72-47 Dec. 20, over Castle 62-47 Dec. 26, over Castle 72-53 Jan. 24, and over Waipahu 55-26 Jan. 22

What’s next: Pairings for this week’s Division II state tournament were to be released Sunday. It runs Wednesday and Thursday at various sites, and will finish at Blaisdell Arena Friday and Saturday.

What to watch: The Falcons were seeking a fourth OIA title in their proud history late last week when they met Farrington in the DII title game. Kalani won DII titles in 2005 and 2006, as well as a DI championship in 2008. Although the Lady Falcons entered the recent OIA tournament on a five-game losing streak, most of those losses came to DI teams this season, as they went 3-1 against DII programs. In fact, Kalani’s only loss to a DII team was a two-point defeat at the hands of the same Farrington team the Falcons were to meet last week in the OIA White championship game.

Kalani enters this week’s state tournament as the top offensive team in the state in their DII format, as it’s averaging a whopping 59 points per game. Perimeter shooting is one of the main reasons why.

Kalani’s 86 three-pointers also rate first in the state in DII. The Falcons tallied 9 three-pointers in their OIA tournament semifinal win over Campbell two weeks ago.

Kalani currently has five players among the top 20 scorers in the OIA White: Carly Kakuda (third, 14.7 points per game), Tailii Iinuma (seventh, 10.0 ppg), Taylor Murai (11th, 7.8), Tristyn Nishibon (12th, 7.6) and Sydnee Kishaba (18th, 5.7).