Aloha sees an 18-point lead cut to just three, but hangs on to win

CEDAR MILL — The Aloha girls basketball team entered the 2013 Metro League season with a pretty good head of steam.

The Warriors won three of their last four non-league games, then took that momentum and blasted out to a 31-13 lead midway through the second quarter of their Metro opener against Sunset on Jan. MILES VANCE - SHE SCORES - Aloha senior Katie Newton lofts a shot over the Sunset defense during her team's 60-52 Metro League victory at Sunset High School on Jan. 17.

The Apollos, however, made sure this game was no blowout. They rallied back over the next two quarters and eventually cut the Warriors’ big lead down to three points early in the fourth quarter before finally falling short and falling 60-52 at Sunset High School.

Aloha then dropped its second-round game, losing 81-49 at Beaverton on Friday to fall to 1-1 in league play (10-6 overall), while the Apollos lost again on Friday, falling 71-25 to Southridge and dropping to 0-2 (4-11 overall).

“I think we ran the press really well at times and that helped us get our momentum going,” said Aloha sophomore Noheaililani Waiwaiole, who had nine points in the victory. “We were just glad we could finish it off strong and not give up our lead completely.”

“They weren’t used to our pace of play so that kind of took them by surprise and let us get up by that much,” added Aloha senior Katie Newton, who finished with eight points. “After that, they figured it out and they were able to come back, but we were able to maintain our lead throughout the game.”

Sunset, meanwhile, was proud of its strong rally and hopeful that it would be able to learn from its loss.

“I think we just picked up our intensity and decided we were going to work hard no matter what,” said Sunset junior Mikayla Alton, who led all scorers with 28 points. “It was hard, but you just have to learn how to play hard 100 percent of the time and be aggressive.”

The Warriors tried to ditch the Apollos early on, building an early lead to 9-3 when Hannah Lange took a pass from Cassidy McDonald and scored inside with 4 minutes, 11 seconds to go in the first quarter.

But Sunset answered with an 8-3 run that cut their deficit to 12-11, that stretch highlighted by six Alton points, the last of those on a jumpshot from the right side assisted by Kinsley Rowan with 2:12 to go in the period.

The next 5:48, however, was a disaster for the Apollos. Over that span, the Warriors took off on a 19-2 run that boosted their lead to 31-13 and gave them what seemed to be complete control of the game.

Demetria Andrews kicked that off for Aloha with four points at the end of the first quarter, Makenzie Johnsen stepped up next with a three-point play and a three-pointer on consecutive possessions at the start of the second, Kenne Khiev added a “three” of her own, Newton hit from the baseline, Khiev drilled two foul shots and Mackenzie Sibert capped that run with a pull-up jumper in the key with 4:25 left in the half for that 31-13 lead.

“They just weren’t used to how fast we pushed the ball up the floor,” Waiwaiole said.

Sunset wasn’t done, though. The Apollos figured out how to deal with Aloha’s trapping full-court pressure and came back to close the half on a 15-3 run of their own that cut the Warrior lead to just 34-28 at the half.

Alton and Laurie Salness played big roles in that comeback, with Salness scoring five of her seven points in the frame while Alton poured in 12 more, hitting 3-of-6 shots from the floor and four straight free throws in the final 3:04 of the half.

“I feel like we relaxed a little bit and let the game come to us,” Salness said. “We just moved like we were supposed to instead of panicking.”

While the first half of the game was a roller coaster of momentum shifts, the second half was much more a back-and-forth battle, the Apollos closing within 37-34 when Salness hit two foul shots two minutes into the third quarter.

But Waiwaiole, back in the game after struggling with foul trouble in the first half, hit a three-pointer and scored five points in the third, while McDonald added another “three” to keep the Warriors ahead 48-42 at the end of the frame. Alton had four points in the period for Sunset.

Sunset was back within three points when Cassidy Kroon took a Rowan pass and buried a three-pointer from the top of the key with 6:40 left in the game, but Aloha closed it out from there. The Warriors forced seven Sunset turnovers in the remaining minutes and held the Apollos to just 1-of-7 shooting.

“I just really wanted to get this game because we lost to them twice in really close games and that was really disappointing,” Newton said. “We definitely don’t want anyone to take us for granted this year. I want us to step up and be one of the threats.”

Johnsen led Aloha with 10 points, Waiwaiole and Sibert had nine each, and Newton and McDonald added eight apiece. For Sunset, Alton had 28, Salness seven and DeMots five.

In upcoming games, Aloha hosts Southridge at 7:15 pm. Friday night, and Sunset plays at Westview at 7:15 p.m. Friday night.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please go to

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