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WAILUKU — Things weren’t looking great for the Maui High School girls basketball team at halftime of their crucial game against Kamehameha Maui on Monday night at Jon Garcia Gym.

Then Lyndee Sabas went to work for the Sabers.

The sophomore guard scored 11 of her team’s 17 points in the third quarter — all of them in the first four minutes of the stanza — to help Maui High open a 13-point lead. The Sabers (11-2) cruised home from there and clinched a berth in the Heide & Cooke/HHSAA state tournament with a 43-30 win in the Maui Interscholastic League Division I tournament semifinals.

That sets up a fourth meeting with Lahainaluna — a 67-24 winner over Baldwin in the first semifinal — tonight at 7 p.m. for the MIL tournament title. A Lunas win would clinch their 18th straight MIL crown, while a Sabers win would force a winner-take-all MIL championship game Wednesday.

“Coach said to attack so we just have to attack — and that’s what I did,” Sabas said after scoring a game-high 16 points. 

The Sabers led 17-15 at halftime after opening up five-point leads on two occasions in the first quarter. 

Jordyn Luna stole a pass and went coast-to-coast to give Maui High a 7-2 lead with 5:01 left in the first quarter. The Sabers’ Margie Ruiz-Sana scored off an inbounds pass to make it 11-6 before Haven De Silva finished a three-point play to bring the Warriors within 11-9 with 13.4 seconds left in the first quarter.

Kiana Manuel sank a pair of free throws for the Sabers to give them a 17-13 lead with 1:51 left in the half and Kamehameha Maui’s Kealoha Baricuatro put back a miss with 25 seconds left to bring the Warriors within two at the break.

Sabas scored the first five points of the second half on a steal and layup and a 3-pointer to push the lead to 22-15 just 43 seconds in. Luna then stole the ball and fed Manuel on the break — she was fouled and sank both free throws to increase the lead to nine points.

After Lauryn DuBach scored inside for the Warriors, Sabas sank another 3 to put the lead to 27-17 with 5:40 left in the third. After a Luna steal and coast-to-coast drive, Sabas sank another 3 to up the lead to 32-17.

After two straight baskets by Baricuatro, Ruiz-Sana made two free throws to make it 34-21 going to the fourth quarter.

The lead grew to 43-23 on a Sabas drive with 3:35 to play.

“Coach said that we were passing up shots, so we just had to keep our eyesight open in the key and if there’s no one there, just take it,” Sabas said. “So, I took it. It all starts with defense, defense is No. 1.”

Maui High coach Victor Aguirre said he will put the 5-foot-5 Sabas up against any guard defensively in the state.

“At halftime we were trying to get everybody more energy, more fired up,” Aguirre said. “All season, Lyndee always answers the bell, so Jacy (Anne Dela Cruz) and Jordyn also stepped up. Those three together are like our dynamic trio.

Today it was Lyndee, it was awesome. She’s probably the best defender in the state. I’d put her up there with all those Campbell girls, for sure, for sure.”

Kamehameha Maui was led by Baricuatro’s 10 points. Coach Lance De Silva was impressed with the Sabers, especially the way they answered to start the second half.

“They came out in the third quarter and we know the third quarter was our Achilles’ heel, so we were actually trying to change things up before the third quarter,” De Silva said. “We came out the first 30 seconds and it kind of already happened. Kudos to them, they played tough and they have great ball handlers — that’s what kind of did it.

“I’m still proud of my girls. I wish them luck tomorrow.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

KAMEHAMEHA MAUI (6-7)

Hailey Visaya 0, Poli Kaia 4, Lauryn DuBach 5, Kailie Kalepa 2, Shanti Visaya 2, Eva Keawekane 0, Haven De Silva 5, Taylor Schnitzer 2, Kealoha Baricuatro 10.

MAUI HIGH (11-2)

Jacy Anne Dela Cruz 2, Kyra Okuyama 2, Lyndee Sabas 16, Jordyn Luna 4, Bella Nania-Cole 0, Naiara Bal 0, Ava Arai 0, Macy Fillazar 0, Margie Ruiz-Sana 8, Kayla Faye Vergara 0, Abseydee Lizada 3, Kiana Manuel 8.

KS Maui 9 6 6 9–30

Maui High 11 6 17 9–43

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