OLINDA — Simply put, this was history for the Pine Lasses.
For the first time, Lanai High School basketball players wore Maui Interscholastic League gold medals around their necks and cut down nets on Friday night at the Erdman Athletic Center.
Lanai stopped Molokai 62-31 in the MIL Division II tournament final to finish their league slate 10-0. The school — which has a high school student body of 160 this year — joined the MIL, with Molokai, in 1984.
“Oh my gosh, it’s amazing, it’s something that we have been looking forward to since middle school,” senior forward Keala Montgomery said after scoring seven points in the game. “To do it with this group of girls is absolutely amazing.”
Montgomery is joined by fellow seniors Leisha Figuerres, Haley Ostrander, Souina Seiuli and injured Miyah Vila on the team that made history for their school.
“We’re going to go to states and show them that Lanai has what it takes,” said Montgomery, a softball standout who recently returned from a college trip. Her college choices for that sport are down to Lawrence University in Wisconsin and Kenyon College in Ohio.
Veniza Jackson, a junior, scored 22 for the Pine Lasses, while Figuerres had six, Ostrander had seven and Seiuli had four. Alexa Pascual, a junior, and Mia Majkus, a freshman, each added six.
“I don’t know, we wanted it for so long and we would always fall short these couple years, but this year we knew it was going to be our year,” Seiuli said. “So we pushed to the end and we finished our job.”
The Pine Lasses showed their basketball cohesiveness and skill early as Montgomery, a forward/center, took balls in the post and made effective passes to Ostrander for a backdoor cut layup before Montgomery found Pascual for a 3 to push Lanai’s early lead to 13-4.
Montgomery muscled for position and scored on an inbounds pass from Seiuli with 10 seconds on the clock to push the lead to 15-8 at the end of the first quarter.
A Pascual 3 made it 20-8 with 6:08 to go in the first half and then Jackson showed her prowess, scoring 10 straight points on a 3, a steal and coast-to-coast layup, a corner 3 and two free throws to push the lead to 31-10 with less than two minutes left in the first half.
A 3 by Majkus pushed the lead to 51-20 and turned on the 30-point mercy-rule running clock with just under two minutes left in the third quarter, and the Pine Lasses were on their way to the title.
Ostrander was wearing one of the biggest smiles of the night after the win was wrapped up.
“I’m so proud of my teammates and my coaches,” Ostrander said. “We’ve been through a lot these past couple years and we’re just very thankful for all the support that we get.”
The team includes five freshmen, including Ostrander’s cousin Shelby Ostrander.
“I feel like a lot of what me and my teammates do at practice, they’re always watching and seeing what we’re doing,” Haley Ostrander said.
Haley Ostrander will never forget her fellow seniors — the tiny island school rarely sees a trio like Ostrander, Montgomery and Seiuli, who helped lead the volleyball team to the state tournament for the first time since 1999 last fall.
“It’s amazing, I grew up with them, it’s emotional and I’m just lost for words,” Ostrander said.
The Lanai parents passed out shirts that commemorated the title, the back reading “MIL champions 2023, history made.”
“I can’t put any of it into words,” Lanai coach Christian Yumol said. “This group, they put in all the hard work from, gosh, at least like six years ago and they’re the team that was able to put it all together.
“Every day at practice this year, it’s always been where we want to be at the end of the season. Our goals were big and we wanted to be in the state tournament and while history being made was in the process of that, you know, we were preparing them for states the whole time.”
Molokai was led by Leila Hooper-Phifer’s 19 points. The Farmers (6-3) are headed to the state tournament for the first time since 2016 and have just three seniors. Coach Shane Mokiao tipped his cap to the champions.
“What a terrific bunch,” Mokiao said. “I kind of followed them from way back when, terrific girls, terrific coaches, all props to them.”
* Robert Collias is at [email protected]
Keylan Alcon 0, Jaysln Rillon 0, Crystal Hoffman 0, Kailana McGuire-Guerrero 0, Joanne Bumatay 0, Kaia Yamashita 10, Khloe Bicoy 0, Kaui Wright-Jordan 2, Leila Hooper-Phifer 19, Pi’i Victorino 0, Natalia Pastrana 0.
Veniza Jackson 22, Leisha Figuerres 6, Kamrynn Kanno 2, Alexa Pascual 6, Mia Majkus 6, Keala Montgomery 7, Haley Ostrander 7, Shelby Ostrander 2, Souina Seiuli 4, Trinity Simon 0, Myah Doolin 0, Miyah Vila 0, Katelyn Bello 0.
Molokai 8 4 8 11–31
Lanai 15 21 17 9–62