MANOA, Saint Francis Gymnasium
Give Saint Francis a chance, they’ll take it. Put them in front of a student section–now known by their PA announcer as the Thunder Brigade–and they’ll give it their all. Twice, in this case.
Lady Saints 52, Damien 41
Kaimi Kalei scored 16 points and Olivia Vaeatangitau added 17 off the bench as the Saints held off a late Monarch surge, 52-41 in front of a loud crowd of around 835–including nearly 250 students–at Saint Francis Gym, otherwise known as Thunder Junction, Saturday afternoon. Melina Souza added 18 for Damien in the loss. The Lady Saints improved to 5-9 (5-3 ILH).
“[Olivia] really gave us a lift, and I think that was the difference,” said Saints coach Chris Hoe. “If it wasn’t for her, we probably wouldn’t have won by this margin.”
Senior captain, Kelli Okubo, however, begged to differ.
“I thought [the students] were the difference. They were amazing.” It seemed that way from the outset, but Damien got off to a hot start. Souza hit two of her first three shots and the Monarchs forced four early turnovers to the tune of a 12-8 first quarter. The Saints, led by Vaeatangitau and Kalei, stormed back, taking a 19-17 lead that they would not relinquish.
The lead ballooned to 36-27 after three, but Souza hit two triples as part of an 8-0 Monarch run to shave the lead to 40-34. But it was Kalei and Vaeatangitau that made clutch shot after clutch shot that led Saint Francis to victory.
“Big win, big win,” said Kalei, “I think that sixth man really helped.” Not to mention Okubo gave a fist bump to the announcer after–he was part of it too.
Saint Francis 66, Le Jardin 47
In a game billed as the division leaders in an instant classic, the Saints dropped 10 three-pointers–four from Bryce Nishida, and three from point guard Kameron Ng and three from 2-guard Noah Kurosawa–en route to a 66-47 rout of the Bulldogs. The Saints did it out and in, with Supi Mailei pulling down 10 rebounds while Isaac Crichton added eight and Boris Vukovic pulled down seven.
It was all done in front of a raucous crowd of around 1,011–including 300 students.
With the win, the Saints moved into sole possession of first place at the halfway of the league season with a perfect 5-0 record. Mitchell Hashimoto led all scorers with 17 as the Bulldogs suffered their first ILH loss.
“We didn’t expect to [shoot this good],” Ng said. “[Coach Ron] told us though, we can’t throw these up at will.”
“Supi [was] a beast inside,” coach Ron Durant said. “Sometimes, he has to take over.” And it was that again. The Saints led by 20 on two separate occasions, only to have the Bulldogs trim it to inside 15 twice. Same went on Thursday—the Saints led by 20 against Damien and nearly blew it.
Not this time. “Coming out strong in that third quarter was huge for us; we challenged our players to come out and take better shots.”
ScoringLive’s Stacy Kaneshiro, who was present at the boys’ game, contributed to this report.