Pearl City Holds Off Late Castle Run, Win 2023 OIA Division II Title
By Paul Brecht
MOANALUA — Despite a furious late charge from the Castle Knights (5-8, 5-8), the Pearl City Chargers (11-7, 6-6) held on to win the 2022-23 OIA Division II girls varsity basketball championship, 39-32.
“We told them from day one that our expectations are high, set our goals high,” Chargers head coach Kyle Martin said following the game. “It was just eyes on the prize, so it’s just so fulfilling to know that we got it done.”
The Division II West division leaders came to play, especially early on. Tied with the Knights, 6-6, at the first media timeout, Pearl City settled into a zone defense to force Castle to shoot from the perimeter.
The strategy proved effective, as the Chargers ended the quarter on a 9-2 run.
Turnovers would also prove costly for the Knights, as the East’s top seed failed to capitalize on defensive stops with points. In the first half alone, Castle turned the ball over 14 times.
Pearl City would capitalize on the errors, streaking ahead to a 24-12 halftime lead as five of seven players seeing court action in the half scored for the Chargers.
Free throws were a struggle all evening for the Knights, as the team did not find the first (and only) free throw make until the third quarter. The missed chances by one team were a boost for the other, with Pearl City extending the lead to 16 at one time.
Malia Tini, a strong post presence for the Knights, was held scoreless in the first half. The forward made her talent felt in the third quarter, finally getting on the board with back-to-back baskets down low to cut into the Pearl City lead.
As Castle continued to attack the basket, fouls started to mount for Pearl City. Starting forward Kaiesha DeWeever picked up her fourth foul with over a minute left in the third quarter, relegating her to the bench.
The Knights continued chipping away at the lead, winning the quarter 11-7 and getting the deficit under 10 points heading into the final eight minutes.
The fourth quarter opened with the teams trading a few 3-pointers, which Pearl City was happy to do with a comfortable 11-point lead and the clock ticking down. Forward Shilee Scanlan drilled in a pair from long distance.
That’s when Tini made her strength down low known once again, scoring four straight points as Castle cut it to 37-30 with 3:01 remaining and forcing a Chargers timeout.
Everything seemed to be going Castle’s way as the game’s moments trickled away. Kaiesha DeWeever fouled out with 2:23 remaining, Tini had become dominant on the offensive glass and the Knight’s defense had been elite in the second half.
But the Chargers weathered the storm and backed home the victory, 39-32.
“At all the timeouts I started to take, it was just ‘stick to our basics’,” Martin explained postgame. “I think we got a little excited, a little nervous [down the stretch].”
Turnovers and missed free throws saw the chances Castle made be wasted, as the Knights finished the evening with 24 turnovers and a harsh 1-21 showing at the free throw line.
Pearl City guard Aiesha DeWeever iced the game with a free throw to cap off an impressive night for the youngster. The freshman filled up the box sheet, finishing the evening with 9 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 5 steals.
Pearl City’s Scanlan led all scorers on the night, scoring 13 points on two 3-pointers and a perfect 3-3 showing at the foul line. Castle’s Tini, held scoreless through one half, finished the night with 12 points and 16 rebounds in 31 minutes of action. Kaila Chun-Carvalho put in a strong effort before fouling out, scoring 8 points to go with 7 rebounds and 5 steals.
Both teams now await state playoff opponents. The first round of the HHSAA Girls Basketball Division II state championship tournament is February 1. The state championship game will be held on February 4 at 7:00 PM HST.
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