Big Island girls using championship experience to lead HPU - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Big Island girls using championship experience to lead HPU

Jazzmin Awa-Williams Jazzmin Awa-Williams
Mana Hopkins Mana Hopkins
Jeff Harada Jeff Harada

By Mike Cherry - bio | email 

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's been a phenomenal year for the Hawaii Pacific University women's basketball team.

The Sea Warriors are 11-and-1 sitting atop the Pac-West Conference.

The team is lead by two Big Island girls, who have tasted success before.

For the HPU women's basketball team, the road to success may have begun in Kona.

Junior forward Jazzmin Awa-Williams and sophomore Mana Hopkins are products of Konawaena High School.

This season, HPU's two leading scorers have also led the Sea Warriors to the top of the Pac-West Conference.

A winning tradition is something both are used to. After all, they teamed up to win a state title back in 2006.

"I always wanted to play college basketball and go to the NCAA tournament," Awa-Williams said. "That's every players dream."

"That's what I was hoping for," Hopkins said. "We really wanted to come in and show that this program can succeed and that was our goal."

Reuniting in college took some time and some luck. Playing in the cold climate of Colorado left Awa-Williams longing for home. Luckily for coach Jeff Harada, he had the perfect recruiting tool.

"When the opportunity arose I told Mana, 'Hey, you better talk to (Jazzmin) and tell her how much you love it here,'" Harada said.

"When she left I was like, 'Jazzy you need to come back,'" Hopkins said.

"I was like 'Wow you know, maybe I should think about coming back home.' And she was like of course come home, you know," Awa-Williams said.

The goal for the HPU women goes beyond one successful season. Next up is building a tradition.

"That's why we work so hard and play so hard every game and every practice," said Awa-Williams."Because we want those who are coming in to see that this is how we do things now and that's how we're always going to do things."

In 2007, HPU won two games. This season, it's a program best 15 and counting.

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