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Basketball Three-in-a-Row MIL Champs

Junior point guard Hepuakea Falealii said her heart is still pumping hard after last week’s games. Falealii played a big part in Molokai’s two thrilling last-second wins in the Maui Interscholastic League (MIL) championship, as the Lady Farmers (13-1) scooped up their third consecutive league title.

Molokai defeated a pair of familiar opponents by a point each, winning against the Hana Dragons 33-32 on Thursday and against the Seabury Hall Spartans 39-38 on Friday. The Lady Farmers have now won seven of the last eight MIL Division II titles.

“The girls did a great job making key plays down the stretch for us to win,” said Head Coach Lee DeRouin. “We’re very excited that we won the MILs again.”

In both games, Falealii scored Molokai’s last points, nailing a free throw against Hana and hitting what DeRouin called “a tremendous shot” in the lane to give Molokai its final lead against the Spartans.

Freshman guard Camille Ledesma said DeRouin told them to expect heavier competition, with all four teams more polished after a full season. After doubling the Dragons’ score in two games at the beginning of the season, the Lady Farmers played a much closer contest.

“Coach Lee told us that it will get challenging for us, because from the start of the season Hana will gradually catch along with the plays,” said Ledesma. “[He said] it will be a whole different Hana and it showed.”

Molokai led by 10 after two quarters, but the lead seesawed between both teams in the second half. Hana’s three-pointer with two seconds left got them within a point of the Lady Farmers, but time quickly expired on the Dragons’ chances.

“It started getting close and toward the end we started to play man,” said Falealii. “It helped us stop them a little.”

Against Seabury, the story was repeated, with neither team able to take the lead for long into the fourth quarter. After Falealii made the Farmers’ final shot with 10 seconds to go, the Spartans inbounded the ball and attempted a shot from half court. It nearly went in, bouncing off the back of the rim at the buzzer.

Guard Precious Rawlins’s seven points and Falealii’s nine were team highs against Hana. Against Seabury, forward Lehiwa Pedro nearly recorded a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds. Ledesma also scored nine and Falealii brought in 14.

On Saturday Lanai beat Seabury 42-33 to clinch the second seed in the state tournament. This week both Molokai and Lanai moved on to the state championship as unseeded teams. The Lady Farmers’ first opponent was Oahu’s University High on Tuesday. DeRouin said it helped that they’ve faced University before at the state tournament before.

“I’m looking forward to just working hard, playing my best and having fun,” said Ledesma, who is attending her first state tournament. “Hopefully have the outcome we want for this state championship.”

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