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‘Iolani girls edge San Juan Hills in OT, 53-49

By Wes Nakama

The ‘Iolani girls basketball team did not have to wait for its annual Prep Classic next week to face its first big challenge from a prominent Mainland opponent.

The four-time defending state champion Raiders edged San Juan Hills (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), the No. 6-ranked team in Orange County, 53-49 in overtime Wednesday night in the first round of the Punahou Pa’ani Invitational at Hemmeter Fieldhouse.

Junior post Callie Pieper sank two free throws with seven seconds remaining in regulation to send the game into OT, then scored the first two baskets of the extra period to help ‘Iolani take control and eventually hold off the Stallions and improve to 7-0. The Raiders will play Sierra Pacific (Hanford, Calif.) at 5 p.m. Thursday. San Juan Hills, which returns three starters from a team that won its league and reached the California Interscholastic Federation Division II quarterfinals last season, will play Punahou at 6:30 p.m.

Freshman guard Justice Kekauoha scored 14 points and Peiper added 10 points, including six in the crucial three minutes overlapping the end of regulation and beginning of overtime, to lead ‘Iolani on Wednesday. Pieper’s clutch play was especially important since senior center Mele Sake — last season’s State Player of the Year — saw only limited action in her first game back after recovering from an offseason leg injury.

Photo: Lori McKeown

The Stallions’ Aryanna Hudson had swished a long 3-pointer from the right wing to give them a 46-44 lead with 23 seconds left in regulation, before Pieper was fouled going up for a basket with seven seconds on the clock. After sinking the first free throw, San Juan Hills called a timeout.

“My teammates just came to me and said, ‘You got this,’ ” Pieper said. “We had plans if I made it, or if I miss it. But my teammates were just like, ‘Nah, she’s gonna make it.’ So that gave me a confidence boost and I was just like, ‘I have to make this for my team.’ “

After she tied the score at 46-46, the Stallions worked the ball up the court but were not able to get off a clean look.

In overtime, Pieper scored on drop-step layups with 2:24 and 1:48 remaining to put the Raiders ahead, 50-46. Mia Frye then drained two free throws with 43 seconds left to make it 52-46. 

Photo: Lori McKeown

Hudson converted a three-point play with 36 seconds showing to close it to 52-49, but Kekauoha made one of two free throws with five ticks on the clock to effectively seal the victory.

“She’s exciting, and she’s still learning our system a little bit,” ‘Iolani coach Dean Young said about Kekauoha. “(But) she’s confident.”

San Juan Hills led 16-14 after one period and 30-24 at halftime, led by Anna Shreeve’s 20 points. But the Raiders ended the third period with a 7-2 run to tie it at 36-36 entering the fourth.

“We had a few scoring droughts, it’s early in the season and we’re still trying to figure out that part of it,” Stallions coach Paul Edwards said. “But that’s why we came here to play, we want to play really good teams and be tested … (‘Iolani) would do great, that’s a team that would definitely be in the top group in Orange County basketball.”

Shreeve led all scores with 24 points, and Hudson added 23 points.

Photos: Lori McKeown


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