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Lady Lunas impressive in win over Oregon team
December 5, 2011 - Robert Collias
If there is a more well-rounded program in the MIL than the Todd Rickard's Lahainaluna girls basketball team, I can't name it. In successive years since their historic 2010 state title, the Lunas have seen all-state center Milika Taufa take her talents to Indiana and then 2010 state player of the year Maiki Viela, the first Parade All-America ever from the MIL in any sport, graduated to top-10-ranked Gonzaga.
But the Lunas are back where they left off — they have been to three straight state final fours, also an unprecedented run for any MIL team that I can remember — after a hard-fought 50-42 win over Lake Oswego, Ore., finished a 10-3 pre-league slate.
Here is the start of my story from the final of the 17th annual Seabury Hall Wahine Classic:
OLINDA - It was far from easy, but Lahainaluna High School girls basketball coach Todd Rickard said he would take it every night.
The Lunas battled tooth and nail with Lake Oswego, Ore., surviving a physical battle for a 50-42 win in the championship game of the 17th annual Seabury Hall Wahine Classic at the Erdman Athletic Center on Saturday night.
It was exactly what the seven-time defending Maui Interscholastic League champions needed, according to Rickard. The game was the 13th of the nonconference slate for the Lunas, who have been to the last three state final fours, winning the first D-I state title for any MIL basketball team in 2010.
With an MIL all-sport record 59 consecutive league wins, this is the kind of test Lahainaluna (10-3) might not get again until the state tournament arrives.
"I think so, this is the kind of game that will have us ready," Rickard said. "I wish we could play one game like this every single time. It is the only way you are going to get better. This team definitely made us one better team tonight. They're solid."
There were 33 fouls called in the first half - 19 on Lahainaluna - leading to 35 free throws. Lunas center Petiola Tuakoi fouled out with 4 minutes, 30 seconds left in the third quarter, and three other starters finished with four fouls.
"Very physical, that reminded me of a state-tournament game," Rickard said. "Really, the size, just the speed of the game, the physicalness of the game, everything. It was a good preparation for us going into our season. I'm glad in the preseason to play a team like this. They have the size, they have the guards, they run the press - that was good for us.
"We managed the pressure pretty well and both teams laid back on the full-court pressure after a while and set up in the half-court defense, so that kind of worked well for us."
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