Borce, Leong lead way as Menes stun ninth-ranked Red Raiders

Moanalua's Kelcie Leong puts up a layup against Kahuku in an OIA East contest Saturday night. CJ Caraang | SL

SALT LAKE - Seniors Kelcie Leong and Delylah Sanerivi combined for 16 second-half points and host Moanalua stunned No. 9 Kahuku, 49-45, Saturday night.

Na Menehune (6-3) celebrated senior night by pulling to within a game of second-place Kahuku (7-2), which entered the day tied for the Oahu Interscholastic Associaton East lead with Kalani (9-1).

"It was big," Moanalua coach Tani Almont-Done said of the victory. "At this point, the way we started off shaky, every win is big right now. Our focus is getting into the playoffs, so everything was big for us."

The win was sweet for Leong.

"It was a huge win for us," said Leong, who had four steals, scoring off one of them. "We were determined to beat Kahuku this year since we lost last year. They're a pretty competitive team to beat this year; they're one of the top (teams). We're glad we took them down."

Sisilia Kaufusi pulled a double-double for the Red Raiders with 30 points - she had 32 Dec. 29 against Castle - and 15 rebounds. But she was only one of four different scorers for Kahuku. Seven different players scored for Moanalua led by Leong and Mariah Borce with 12 points each. All of Borce's scoring came in the first half on four 3- pointers.

Moanalua pressured Kahuku from the start; Kahuku turned over the ball 20 times.

"We usually pick up man, full-court, but it's perfecting it that we have to keep working on." Almont-Done said. "That's key. I told them postseason play is all about being able to play man and full-court man, so we had to be ready."

The giveways weren't lost on Kahuku coach Latoya Wily.

"I can't even make excuses for it," Wily said. "I told them, no excuses. We just didn't play our game. Moanalua came out strong, they came out hard on senior night. They wanted to win."

But that wasn't all.

"Finding out three of your players - two who are starters - were playing 3-on-3 with the boys at Laie park two hours today - in the hot sun - that's really upsetting to me," Wily said. "You could see it. You could see how they were running on the floor."

Moanalua opened the scoring when Leong scored off of a steal, but could not convert the three-point play. Kahuku tied it at 2 on a basket by Meleane Tonga. But Moanalua followed with an 11-0 run - nine of the points coming on three consecutive 3-pointers by Borce en route to a 15-8 first period.

Kahuku pulled to 21-19, but Moanalua closed the half with a 6-2 run to take a 27-21 lead into the half.

Moanalua scored first in the third period to make ti 29-21, but Kaufusi almost single-handedly brought Kahuku back into the game, scoring six in an 8-0 run that tied the game at 29 with 4:34 in the third. But Manu Itula'a dribble drive at 2:52 gave Moanalua a lead it would not relinquish. Kahuku pulled to 47-45 with 24 seconds left after Kaufusi made both free throws (she was 8 of 9 from the line). But later, Leong broke free on an inbounds pass and cruised for an uncontested layup to seal the game.

Sanerivi's strong second half made a difference. She had nine rebounds, seven in the second half, as well as a block.

"Getting into foul trouble in the first half was tough," Almont-Done said. "But Delylah gets in her head that she's big and she has to take a step back, so at halftime, we let her know she has to show up. She has to stop No. 15 (Kaufusi). The goal was (for her) to play some D. That was first."

Added Sanerivi: "In the locker room (at halftime) everyone was really pumped, so I just wanted to do something for my team."

Another difference was Moanalua's contributions from its bench. Itula had four points and five rebounds and Kylie Casinas had five points and a rebound. Kahuku had no scoring and two rebounds off its bench.

"We tell our girls about unity," Wily said. "It has to be five people on the court at the same time working hard together, not just one or four. Sisi definitely did her thing. She was crashing boards for us, finishing layups, taking it hard to the basket, so I know it's a tough loss for her. We juat have to keep working hard."

Reach Stacy Kaneshiro at [email protected]