Punahou regroups to win consolation game

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- The Punahou girls could have dwelled on their opening round loss Wednesday, blaming jet lag, the time difference or just a too-strong Archbishop Carroll squad. Instead, they regrouped and talking about playing with, and for, pride.

It worked. The Buff 'n' Blue, who start each game by gifting the coaches and players of the opposing team, as well as the game officials, held off a late push by H.D. Woodson to win their consolation game, 59-54 in overtime.

"After getting our pride tested (Wednesday), the talk today was to come out with pride," Punahou coach Mike Taylor said. "It's a tournament of champions, champions from all over the country. We're not out to prove anything to anybody, we're just out to play to our potential.

"Win or lose, we want to compete and play with pride. And just go for it."

Shawna Lei Kuehu led all scorers with 18 points, including the final three in overtime that sealed the game.

"(Wednesday) was a tough game," Kuehu said. "(Thursday) coach said play to your potential and play with your pride. That's the only thing we have otherwise, our pride, and we don't want that to get hurt."

Right behind Kuehu, junior Janelle Nomura finished with 16 points, but her most important two came with just one minute and 13 seconds remaining in overtime.

After the junior and her teammates worked 1:08 off the clock on a single possession, Nomura drove from the top of the arc and into the line of fire to hit a pick-and-roll layup, giving Punahou a 56-54 lead.

"She's our gym rat," Taylor said. "She really wanted it. She was upset at our performance yesterday and she was pretty fired up about today's game. She had a lot of confidence and we have a lot of confidence in her, too."

Nomura was also six for six from the line, including two free throws at the end of the fourth quarter and another two in overtime.

"That's what we were planning on doing was killing time and being smart with the ball," Nomura said. "I just took the opportunity and took her one-on-one."

Girls basketball in Hawaii doesn't use a shot clock, so Taylor and his team played one of their strengths to their advantage, at one point working two minutes off the clock during one fourth-quarter possession.

"We've done it in the past," Taylor said. "We just planned to take some air out of it. We weren't planning on using it for the whole five minutes, but we thought let's just take three off and shorten the game."

The clock management slowed Washington D.C.'s H. D. Woodson, which depends on a more up-tempo game to keep its pace. Senior Patrice Johnson led the Warriors with 14.

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