OIA Girls Basketball
Radford picks up pivotal win over Kapolei to hold on to second place in OIA West


Fri, Jan 21, 2022 @ Kapolei

Final 1 2 3 4  
Radford (11-3, 13-4) 9 10111141
Kapolei (5-6, 5-7) 6 3 14 831
M. Ahana 11 pts  1/5 FTs
M. Mattos 12 pts  0/0 FTs

KAPOLEI — Following its 41-31 win over Kapolei Friday night, the Radford girls basketball team is in control of its own destiny heading into the final week of the regular season. 

Mailana Mattos scored 12 points and Tiffany Nunies had 11 to lead the Rams (8-1) past the host Hurricanes (5-3) in their penultimate Oahu Interscholastic Association Western Division contest. 

The win kept Radford in second place in the seven-team OIA D1 West standings with just one game before the start of the 12-team league tournament. The top two teams from both the East and West after the regular season receive a first-round bye in the playoffs. 

"This was a huge game for us," said Rams coach Charles Chong, whose team has a well-timed bye next before it wraps up the 10-game regular season Thursday against third-place Mililani (7-1).

A win over the Trojans would lock up a second-place finish for Radford, as well as a coveted bye to open the playoffs.

"To end the season we got another big game against Mililani and it would be nice to get that second seed, so I think it's gonna be a big game on Thursday," Chong said. 

But it would have been a moot point had the Rams not taken care of business against the ‘Canes Friday. Not that Chong's bunch was taking them lightly. 

"You can't look past Kapolei. That group is talented, they've been playing together for a long time, there's a lot of talent on that team. We tried to just get in their faces and slow them down a little bit and I thought the girls did a pretty good job of controlling the tempo, (but) there's still a lot of things we gotta clean up," Chong said. 

Radford used a suffocating defense — a 2-3 zone for much of the game — that led to 17 turnovers for Kapolei, which was held to its second-lowest scoring output of the regular season. 

"Today I feel like our energy was good …. Our energy today, we just came out with a we-want-to-get-it mentality after a tough loss," Mattos said, referencing a 39-37 loss at Campbell (8-0) eight days prior. 

Mattos said the down-to-the-wire loss to the Sabers was a learning experience for her and her teammates. 

"The reason why we lost is because we were (shooting) ourselves in the feet, so beating Kapolei really upped our momentum and from here on out we're gonna get it, (but) we have to take it step by step, first of all, which is working together and having good synergy and connected between each other," Mattos explained. 

That synergy started on the defensive end of the floor. Angel Asaah poked away a Kapolei possession that led to a Nunies' bucket in transition off an assist from Jirah Villanueva. That ignited an 18-3 run for the Rams that turned a slim 7-6 advantage into a commanding 25-9 lead — their largest of the game. 

Radford scored its share of fast break points, including coast-to-coast drives and finishes at the bucket by both Villanueva and Nunies during its momentum-sezing run that spanned parts of three quarters. 

"We have a team that can run so we want to take advantage of that. What we say is, ‘Play great defense and then run and just keep running and keep running,' " Chong said. 

The ‘Canes, however, found their rhythm on offense and scored on six consecutive possessions that included a 12-2 run to get within 27-21 with one minute and 41 seconds left in the third quarter. 

Kapolei's run began with a Kiara Ramos 3-pointer from the right wing and included a three-point play by Makiah Ahana. 

Chong was concise with his words to his team during a timeout he called to stop the bleeding. 

"I told them, ‘I told you so,' " he recalled. "I said, ‘Kapolei is the kind of team that scores in bunches, so we don't want a one-point run to turn into an eight-point run.' So I told them, I said, ‘I told you so. Now let's regroup, let's dig back in, get back to what was working and get back to great defense — that's where it starts' and I was proud of where the girls were able to get the lead again."

Radford held a 30-23 lead after three quarters and extended it to a 39-25 cushion midway through the fourth after a Mattos' layup in transition. 

With exactly 60 seconds left in the game, Nunies went to the free-throw line for a one-and-one bonus. She made her first free throw, but missed the second; with the rest of her teammates in the backcourt for defensive purposes, Nunies made a diving attempt to save the ball from going out of bounds, but was unable to. 

Nevermind the fact that the Rams were up 13 points with 58 seconds remaining. 

"What we say every day, our assistant coach has been trying to pound this into their head every day is no matter what we do, beginning to end, bring attitude and energy every game," Chong said. "We say that we want four quarters of attitude and energy because it's in the lulling points where we get lazy or complacent — that's when bad things happen — so I think this is a team that if we keep the energy level up it's going to help our chances to be successful, so we stress it every day."

Villanueva finished with seven points and Asaah chipped in six for Radford, which was coming off of a 63-12 win over Waipahu Wednesday night. 

Ahana led Kapolei with 11 points. Ramos tallied eight points and Aadriana White contributed five off the bench in the loss. 

The Rams led at halftime, 19-9.

The Hurricanes will visit Mililani Tuesday before they host Leilehua (4-4) Thursday night to close out the regular season. 

Reach Kalani Takase at [email protected].

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