KALAHEO — Tight competitive matches were appropriate to wrap up the Kauai Lynx Veterans Day basketball tournament Sunday at Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.
Kaulupono 5/6th grade division team’s Liana Hasegawa broke through in the final minute of their skirmish with the A‘o uka Rebels squad with a bucket and a pair of free throws to ice the 27-23 victory for that division crown.
The Honolulu Sharks, playing in the 7/8th grade divisions, saw Lulu Uluave net a game-high 22 points in their title match against HiLyfe, a team from Hilo coached by Donald Yamada.
That was not enough to surpass the HiLyfe scoring spread over seven players, as HiLyfe edged the Sharks, 36-35 for the division title.
“Make every shot count,” Uluave commanded over the court as the Sharks took a 9-4 lead in the first quarter.
But HiLyfe answered with a 13-6 second-quarter run, triggered by a three-ball from Heidi Vidal and eight points from Kayla Pak who went on to reap high-point honors for the victorious Big Island team.
Following Pak, Dakota Muranaka and Vidal netted seven points apiece and Brooke Sumera finished with six points to round out the HiLyfe leaderboard.
The Sharks came back in the fourth quarter with an 11-8 run, fueled by Uluave’s nine points in the rally effort before the clock ran out.
Following Uluave, the Sharks got seven points from Kristi Yasukochi and pairs from Maya Wu and Nilianu Sylvester.
The earlier 5/6th grade division title match was equally exciting as Kaulupono faced an aggressive A‘o uka Rebels squad, with the home team at a height disadvantage.
Kaulupono faced the squad with a player donning a cast, and injuries taking their toll in the final quarter.
“Did you see we had the three third-graders out there at the end?” an excited fan said in the melee following the comeback win where Kaulupono battled back from a 12-9 halftime deficit.
“Those are our babies,” said Eric Rita, one of the coaches along with Pedro Saligumba. “They’re the same girls we worked with all this time.”
Battling a see-saw lead through the final two minutes, Katelyn Constantino bucketed a pair from the pocket with 2:06 remaining in the contest before going down with an injury that required a carry-off to the bench.
Hasegawa topped the Kaulupono scoring with 14 points, including a second-half three-ball. She got help from Constantino, who ended the match with nine points, including a fourth-quarter trey before being carried off the floor. Kahoopomaikai Moniz added three marks and a digit from Wailana Christian figured in the win.
Skylyn Fagarang-Alalem topped the Rebels’ effort on nine points, followed by Ceanne Baliaris adding eight points, including a three-ball in the third quarter. Zylah Blackstad-Texeira and Priscilla Matthews each put in pairs, and a digit from Cairee Quinones rounded out the scoring.