Molokai athletic history is made with Girls State Basketball Title
By Sean Aronson
Long credits the entire team with the victory, saying their camaraderie and tightness was infectious. During the season, the Farmers travelled considerably and played just three of their 22 games at home in “The Barn”. That kind of schedule prepared the team well for rigors of a week-long tournament.
Long says playing in two early season tournaments on Oahu was particularly beneficial, especially when the majority of MIL teams were not competitive with the Farmers this season.
“That was huge,” says Long.
It may also explain how the girls remained so relaxed throughout the tournament. In fact, Long and Assistant Coach Mike Hooper were slightly concerned before the state title game because the girls were so loose the day of the championship game. They said they worried about the focus of the team, but when the ball was tipped all worries disappeared.
“We became more relaxed as the week went along,” says point guard Hooper-Juario. “We learned to take the time to slow down the pace of the game to suit our needs.”
The team was so relaxed; it turns out, that they forgot to eat lunch and instead played their 5pm game without having eaten since breakfast at 10am. Long says he was dying of starvation, but only realized it after all the excitement and hoopla dissipated.
“I think we were all just so caught up in the moment,” says Long.
Hooper-Juario, a junior, was the leading scorer on a team that included just one senior. The starting five will all be returning next year, and several key players off the bench will also return to defend their state title.
Despite playing in Oahu, the Farmers enjoyed a lot of crowd support, thanks in part to Molokai being the underdog and that they were playing a private school, Kamehameha of Hawaii.
“Anytime we are playing a private school, the crowd seems to favor of us,” says Long.
With the score tied and a little more than two minutes to go, the Farmers defense clamped down big time. As Kamehameha guards ran the clock down, the Molokai girls fought through screens and never let their player get out of sight, says Long. Adolpho had two huge blocks during this sequence and after turnovers by both teams on subsequent possessions; the ball came back to Molokai with less than 30 seconds to go. Adolpho, after two failed attempts, put back the game winner with 12 seconds to go. When Kamehameha three-point attempt clanked off the rim, the Molokai girls stormed the court.
They were State Champions!
The last state high school team title for Molokai was when the baseball team won back to back championships in 1999 and 2000.
Players and coaches would like to thank the Molokai fans and the MHS athletic department for their support throughout the season.
As for next year, Long isn’t making any predictions, but he does have one change he’ll be sure to make on the coaching end.
“We need to allow some of the goofiness; it certainly doesn’t seem to hurt.”