LIHUE — The Red Raiders won the last game of the regular season to still be in contention for the second round.
Kauai High School’s varsity boys basketball team defeated Kapaa, 48-41, Friday night at home.
Kauai (7-1 KIF, 3-1 2nd round) will host Waimea (4-4 KIF, 3-1 2nd round) at 7 p.m. Monday for a second round playoff game.
“Kapaa came out. They played a lot better than the other night. We played pretty decent, but we got to get better,” Yoshioka said. “We got to get ready for Waimea on Monday night. It’s going to be a fun game to coach and watch. I’m excited. (Waimea head coach Dino Pabre) has his team running on all cylinders. We got to get us running on all cylinders by Monday. It’s going to be a fun weekend.”
A Red Raiders win on Monday would clinch Kauai High its second consecutive Kauai Interscholastic Federation varsity boys basketball championship.
If the Menehune win, then Waimea would win the season’s second round and the two teams would play one more game for the league title at a date and location to be determined.
Waimea defeated Kauai, 38-37, on Jan. 26. It’s the team’s only loss in the regular season.
“It’s a big game, but we got to be focused,” said Red Raiders senior guard Gunnar Burkman. “Last time (against Waimea), one slipped away. But this time, we got to play all out.”
Kauai scored 14 points in the third period to extend its lead to double-digits. Red Raiders junior guard CJ Cromartie got a steal and a fastbreak layup to give Kauai a 31-21 lead.
“I think going, making some small adjustments and where we were on defense and just making things happen, that was the difference — players making it happen, doing their jobs and taking care of their business,” Yoshioka said. “Once they can do that and play as a team, it’s fun to watch.”
Kapaa (1-7 KIF, 0-4 2nd round) only trailed by two points going into halftime.
But even with the bonus situation in the third quarter, the Warriors only managed three points in the period, going 3-8 from the free throw line.
“They press us aggressively. We couldn’t handle the press,” said Kapaa head coach Kamahalo Ka’uhane. “We made costly turnovers. They had some difficult runs, but that’s something we really need to work on. Next season starts tomorrow. Let’s see how we can improve on that.”
Ka’uhane added despite what the record is, his team showed “a lot of heart” over the course of the season.
“Just the inexperience was something we continually tried to get better at,” he said. “Next year, we’ll be a very young veteran team. Hopefully, we can improve on that and make the necessary improvements that we need to be more successful next year. Overall, I’m just appreciative of this young bunch, this team, that we have.”
Friday was Kauai High’s senior night. Six Red Raider seniors were acknowledged after the game.
“It feels great,” said Burkman, a three-year varsity player. “It’s been a good career. I have no regrets. So, that’s the most important part. … It means a lot. This is the only sport I play, so this is the main thing I look forward to every year. Winning on senior night means a lot to me.”
Yoshioka said of his seniors class: “I think this one’s a very non-emotional group. They work hard, really hard. Not only on the court, but in school and the community. They’re a great bunch of kids. They’re not aggressive, vocal kids. But when they step on the court, they’re aggressive. They play and work hard. It’s fun to coach kids like that. It’s a challenge because they’re not the ‘rah-rah’ type of kids. They just work hard, and it’s fun to coach.”
Burkman totaled 11 points and one rebound for Kauai. Cromartie had seven points, two rebounds and a steal. Red Raiders senior guard Christian Manera had nine points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Junior guard Kaimani Tecson had eight points, seven rebounds and one assist.
Warriors sophomore center Moses Ho had nine points, two blocks and two rebounds for Kapaa. Sophomore guard Kilakila Hepa had eight points, one assist and one steal. Senior forward Noah Rall had five points, three rebounds and two steals.
Kapaa won the junior varsity game, 39-36. Alakai Gonsalves scored 11 points for the JV Warriors. Jim Ehia III had 10 points had 10 for the JV Red Raiders.