LIHUE — In a packed and loud gym, the Red Raiders and Menehune battled for title hopes.
The Red Raiders were victorious at home.
Kauai High School’s varsity boys basketball team defeated Waimea High, 59-43, Monday night in a second round playoff game to win this year’s Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship.
“It was a college-type atmosphere. It was fun,” said Kauai head coach Ipo Yoshioka. “It was fun to listen. It was fun to watch. It was just fun all the way around.”
It is the Red Raiders’ second consecutive league title.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s kind of better than (last year) because it’s our senior year,” said Red Raiders senior guard Christian Manera. “It’s definitely a great feeling.”
He added about playing in the loud environment: “There’s nothing better than it. You want it loud. You got most of the student body here supporting us. It’s a great feeling.”
Kauai (8-1 KIF, 3-1 2nd round, 1-0 playoff) had the bonus situation in the fourth quarter and made it count at the free throw line. The Red Raiders were 13-15 from the line in the period.
Manera made two free throws in the final quarter to give Kauai a 44-33 lead.
“Defensively, we needed to put pressure on them. We needed to make them uncomfortable,” Yoshioka said. “Offensively, they started to get really aggressive. So, we just stretched it out and attacked it. They started to get in foul trouble, so we kept attacking that. We knew we could hit some free throws down the line.”
Kauai outscored Waimea, 29-18 in the fourth period to secure the league championship and a berth at states.
“It was a hard game in the first half. But come the third quarter, we just started fighting. Fourth quarter, we just pulled out,” said Red Raiders junior guard Kaimani Tecson. “We came out strong. We wanted the title even more, and we just finished.”
Tecson added about winning KIF: “It means a lot. It means the next step to playing with big boys in states.”
Waimea (4-5 KIF, 3-1 2nd round, 0-1 playoff) just trailed by five points after three quarters, but couldn’t keep up with Kauai’s offensive output in the fourth.
Two Menehune seniors, forward Joel Soriano and guard Taylon Yadao, fouled out in the last quarter.
“It’s really disappointing. But I know everybody, at the end of the day, we’ll come back from this,” said Menehune senior forward Dylan Balaan. “We fought until the end. Just really disappointing. All these boys is like my family to me. At the end of the day, we’ll just keep fighting.”
The first quarter ended with a 7-7 tie after Red Raiders after Red Raiders junior guard CJ Cromartie made a 3-pointer with seconds left.
Had Waimea won Monday, the Menehune would have won the season’s second round and a championship game would have been played between the teams at a later date.
“It was a tough game. We wish Kauai High all the luck. Hopefully, they’ll do well at states,” said Waimea head coach Dino Pabre. “They took us out of our game. We missed some shots. We missed some free throws. That’s part of the game.”
Pabre added: “We couldn’t be any prouder. Like we told the kids, ‘No matter what happens, the way we played the game, the way we’re going to approach life tomorrow, that’s more important than the result tonight.’ That’s the life lessons we teach these kids. From tomorrow on, they’re writing their own chapter.”
Kauai High will take part in the 2018 Snapple Boys Basketball Championships – Division II state tournament, which begins Feb. 14 on Oahu.
“In practice, we can’t slow down,” Manera said. “We actually have to kick it up a notch. We just need to practice even harder. Bigger competition, bigger stage.”
Tecson had 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal for Kauai. Manera totaled 14 points, three rebounds, one assist and one block. Cromartie had 15 points, two rebounds and one assist. Senior guard Gunnar Burkman had eight points, one assist and one rebound.
Balaan had eight points — all scored in the fourth quarter — two rebounds, two steals and one block for Waimea. Soriano had six points, six rebounds, two steals, one assist and one block. Yadao had one point and one assist.
Menehune senior guard DJ Pabre led Waimea with 10 points, five rebounds, two assists and one steal. Senior guard Jason Newall had nine points, two rebounds and one steal.