Last week, the HHSAA (Hawaii High School Athletic Association) hosted their 2024 Girls Basketball State Championship Tournament. I was super excited to cover my home state this season and give those students a National Platform of Exposure. In covering games around the West Coast Region, Hawaii High School Games still give me the adrenaline rush excitement as the fan base and community is very passionate about supporting their teams.

The GC3 Hoops platform accomplished a huge milestone to close 2023 by serving as a committee member for the 2nd Annual I Mua Invitational hosted at Kamehameha Schools Kapalama. The I Mua Invitational hosted 8 girls basketball teams with 6 from Hawaii, and 2 from Arizona. The event was loaded with talent here are how the teams finished:

Kamehameha-Kapalama – HHSAA Division 1 Runner Up

Maryknoll – ILH D1 Champions/ HHSAA Division 2 State Champions

Kahuku – OIA D1 Champions/ HHSAA Division 1 5th Place

Lahainaluna – MIL D1 Champions/ HHSAA Division 1 4th Place 

Kamehameha-Hawaii – BIIF D2 Champions/ HHSAA Division 2 3rd Place

Waiakea – BIIF D1 Runner Up / HHSAA Division 1 7th Place

Miami – AIA 2A Valley Region Champions / #2 Seed in AIA 2A Playoffs (In Play)

Hamilton – AIA 6A Premier Region Champions/ #1 Seed in AIA Open Division Playoffs (In Play)

In the event I was able to evaluate some of the best talent in the Islands like Nihoa Dunn (KS-K), Tailele Wily-Ava (Kahuku), Keanu Huihui (KS-H), Lola Donez (Lahainaluna), Puaena Herrington (Waiakea), and Hailey Perez (Maryknoll). Just the lone event I was able to see some of the top talent from around the state. I am extremely grateful for Kamehameha Athletic Director Brandi Richardson and Women’s Head Coach Pua Straight for getting me involved with the event.

Fast forward to February and both playoff brackets were exciting to watch. In the early round (Division 1), Campbell nearly upset top seeded Iolani by leading by as much as 16 for three quarters before Iolani came back and held off upset minded Campbell. Fast forward to the Division 1 State Championship, Iolani and Kamehameha went toe to toe. We all got our money’s worth as the game went into overtime before Iolani held off Kamehameha by 1. The exciting part is Kamehameha’s core is mainly sophomores, so I know Coach Straight will be back with her team next year looking to take the Division 1 crown.

In the Division 2 State Championship, Maryknoll struck gold in holding off upset minded Hanalani. Maryknoll’s full court pressure flustered Hanalani and their back court of Hailey Perez and Isabella Arissgado helped lead the Spartans to a big win. Hanalani did get amazing performances from Tamlyn Celestino and Ellana Klemp. This also was Maryknoll’s Head Coach Chico Furtado’s first state championship as a girls coach. 

I have a lot of respect for Coach Furtado as he has been a fixture in the Hawaii High School Basketball community. From his iconic sideline attire accessorized with fanny pack and Gatorade towel, to his passionate animated delivery of coaching and commitment to both Kalaheo and Maryknoll communities. 

Numerous student athletes are blessed to have been mentored and coached by him. I write this as I heard rumblings of Coach possibly retiring and if it’s true, what a career and thank you for all your work with the youth. Last but not least, thank you to the Hawaii Basketball Community for the love, support, and re-welcoming this Island Boy back home to promote and cover Hawaii’s top hoops talent. I want to send a special thanks to Coach Wally Marciel, Coach Paka Bello, Coach Robbie Shklov, Coach Pua Straight, Coach Latoya Wily, Coach Bri Ligat-Ramos, Coach Paul Honda, ESPN Honolulu, and Scoring Live for keeping me in the loop with Hawaii Hoops.

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