KAPAA — The Warriors are now 3-0 and have clinched the season’s first round.
Kapaa High School’s varsity girls basketball team defeated Kauai High, 45-39, Tuesday evening at Kapaa.
“It came down to free throws. Gladly, tonight toward the end, we made our free throws. That’s what helped us out,” said Kapaa head coach William Aki.
With a one-point lead and less than a minute left on the clock, the Kapaa drew fouls and got chances at the free throw line to widen its lead.
Warriors freshman guard Jaliyah Casem was sent to the free throw line three times in those closing seconds and was a perfect 6-6 to help seal the win for Kapaa. She finished the game with eight points, all of which were free throws.
“I wasn’t feeling that pressured as much as the other games. I just blocked everybody out, just focused on the basket and just focused on shooting,” Casem said.
For Casem to convert those crucial free throws despite only being freshman, she simply “did her job,” Aki said.
“That’s all I can ask from all of them — just do their part and take care of the ball,” he said. “We got a little sloppy toward the middle, but we made a good adjustment in the fourth quarter to take care of the ball a little better.”
Down three points, Kauai had one more possession and called a time out with 18 seconds left.
“We talked about trying to attack the basket and getting a quick score,” said Kauai head coach James Dingus. “If (we made) a three, then it’s a tie game and obviously (don’t) foul. If we got a quick two, then we’d be down one point and we’d try to get a steal on the inbounds pass or foul right away. That was the strategy we talked about.”
Red Raiders senior guard Marissa Martinez was injured late in the second quarter. She finished the period, but did not return in the second half. She finished the game with six points and two steals.
“The girls are working hard. They’re trying to do the right things. I think in that one, you got to give Kapaa a lot of credit,” Dingus said. “They were a little short-handed, but they found a way to do it, and they’re the winners.”
Kapaa was without two of its seniors: center Siokapesi Paua and guard Kunani Tuttle.
Junior guard Paea Tafea had 15 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two assists for Kapaa. Senior forward Tori Daligcon-Pomaikai had 11 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
Sophomore center Taegan Keep had 17 points, seven rebounds, two blocks and two assists for Kauai High. Junior guard Monique Tomacder had nine points, three steals and two assists.
Kapaa also won the junior varsity game, 50-34. Sophomore guard Keani Tolenoa scored 19 points for the Warriors. Sophomore guard Shaelynn Erikson had eight points for the JV Red Raiders.
“We are improving. We still got a lot to work on, but I do appreciate the effort that the girls are giving,” said Kapaa JV coach Jordyn Danner. “We did better on rebounding. We do need to do a better job of taking care of the ball, but I guess that’s any JV team.”
Kauai High (1-2 KIF) will next host Waimea (0-2 KIF) on Tuesday. The JV game will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity will follow. Kapaa will play at Waimea on Jan. 8.