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(Wed) February 6, 2013

HHSAA Division II GIRLS BASKETBALL: Honoka‘a squeaks past Hawai‘i Baptist, 37-35

By Wes Nakama

Hunter Liftee scored on a layup with three seconds remaining Wednesday night to lift Honoka‘a to a thrilling 37-35 quarterfinal victory over No. 3 seed Hawai‘i Baptist in the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Division II Girls Basketball State Championships at Kalani Gym.

The Dragons improved to 9-3 in the regular and postseason and will face No. 2 seed Kaua'i (10-0) in Thursday's 5 p.m. semifinal at Kalani. HBA, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu DII champ, fell to 10-1 and will play Kailua (8-8) in a fifth-place bracket semifinal at 7 p.m. at Kaimuki.

Honoka‘a jumped out to a quick 16-2 lead in the first six minutes after Eagles guard Stephanie Dang scored on a breakaway layup following the opening tip. Jenee Brown finally snapped the run by swishing a 3-pointer with 21 seconds remaining in the first period and Hawai'i Baptist outscored the Dragons 12-3 in the second quarter, capped by Hayley Dixon's 3-pointer which closed it to 19-17 at the half.

Honoka‘a opened the lead to 29-21 late in the third period but Brown nailed another 3-pointer to make it 29-24 entering the fourth.

The Dragons led 35-28 after Liftee's layup with 4:26 left, but the Eagles clawed their way back and eventually tied it at 35-35 on Lauren Sumida’s free throw with 1:01 remaining.

After each team turned the ball over in the frantic final minute, Liftee scored from the left side shortly following an inbounds pass. HBA called timeout with 2.5 ticks on the clock, but a 35-foot shot at the buzzer went high off the backboard.

Liftee finished with a game-high 23 points.