KAPAA — The Red Raiders won on a last second shot to finish the season’s first round unbeaten.
Kauai High School’s varsity girls basketball team edged Kapaa High, 42-41, on Thursday at the Bernice Hundley Gym in Kapaa.
Down a point with 10 seconds left, Red Raiders senior guard Shaelynn Erickson got off a layup that went in right before the final buzzer sounded.
“It’s a fun one. Exciting,” said Kauai head coach James Dingus. “Both teams making shots up and down. The crowd was into it. Really noisy. And really happy for Shae. She played really well the whole game, I thought. She scored some points in the first half and played good defense. Making that game-winner is what a lot of people are going to talk about.”
Erickson finished with nine points, two steals and two rebounds.
“That one felt exhilarating,” Erickson said of her buzzer-beater. “But I think all of the players played really well. We just did it as a team. I couldn’t do it without them.”
Kauai (4-0 KIF) had an 11-point lead at halftime, but that advantage disappeared by the end of the third quarter.
“I thought the girls on our bench kept their composure,” Dingus said. “We were able to maintain and have some confidence in our team. It’s still a tie game, and there was still a quarter to go. I don’t think we executed on defense as well as we can. In that third quarter, they made shots.”
Erickson added: “In the third quarter, I felt the girls were frustrated and overwhelmed by the environment and atmosphere of the gym. … We were making bad passes and bad decisions. But I’m glad we got back up in the fourth quarter.”
Kapaa (0-4 KIF) didn’t score a point in the second quarter and faced a 22-9 deficit at halftime.
“We got out of our game. We didn’t run any offense. We got out of sync. Had to slow them back down again so we could rejuvenate what we planned for the start of the game. And turnovers, again, cost us,” said Kapaa head coach William Aki.
The Warriors then came out firing and outscored the Red Raiders, 22-9, in the third quarter to erase Kauai’s lead.
“Running our offense and taking shots,” Aki said. “It got away from us the last few games that we played. We gave up shooting the ball in the second half. It’s why we got blown out the first three games we played. Last two games we played, we were really close and had the lead. We just gave it away. But to reflect on this first (round), we’re getting better. We’re starting to gel, and I’m starting to find out what works for us.”
Kapaa made four 3-pointers in the quarter. Warriors junior guard Jaliyah Casem made a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded at the end of the period to level the score, 31-31.
Warriors sophomore guard Junelle Kayla Tangalin made a layup to give Kapaa a 41-40 lead right before a timeout was called with 10 seconds left in the game.
“We wanted to finish this game strong, like coach said,” Casem said. “We just did the best that we could. We felt we could do better. We could beat this team. We did our best to do it. Everyone played to their full potential, and it showed in this game.”
Dingus added: “Credit to Kapaa. They put together a game plan that worked, especially in the second half when they hit some threes. They got us in a situation where (senior center Taegan Keep) had to come out away from the paint and were able to drive it a little bit. So credit to Kapaa, but I thought we showed a lot of composure and competitiveness. Shae making that last shot, that’s fun high school basketball.”
Red Raiders freshman guard Amalya Sales led Kauai with 10 points, two rebounds and a steal. Keep had two points, 16 rebounds, three blocks and two assists. Sophomore guard Marissa Layosa had nine points, six rebounds and four assists.
Casem finished with 15 points — 12 scored in the third quarter — two rebounds and an assist for Kapaa. Tangalin had six points, two rebounds and an assist. Freshman guard Lilya Cummings had 12 points, five rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
Kauai also won the junior varsity game, 37-17. Jasmyn Ballesteros led Kauai’s JV team with seven points. Katrina Cadiz and Ghiezelle Dela Cruz each had six points.
Angeline Roslin, Kyllie Belmonte and Lilia Unutoa each had four points for Kapaa’s JV team.
The season resumes on Jan. 2 when Kauai hosts Waimea High School (2-2 KIF) to start the second round. The JV game will begin 5:30 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
Kapaa next plays Jan. 5 at Waimea High School’s Clem Gomes Gym.