LIHUE — Kauai High School varsity boys basketball team climbed out of a hole at halftime and went on to beat Kapaa High School, 46-41, Tuesday night during the Kauai Interscholastic Federation games at Kauai High School.
Following a 15-10 lead at the end of the first quarter, stoked by two three-pointers from Kaimani Tecson and one from CJ Cromartie, the Warriors readjusted to claim a 25-19 lead at the break before one of the bigger audiences that were not afraid to get involved in the contest.
“This was a physical game, and we were mismatched,” said Kapaa coach Kamahalo Kauhane. “We made some adjustments that moved the game wider and more spread out. But Kauai is a tough opponent, and their defense is always on their game.”
Facing the six-point deficit, the Red Raiders started their climb out of the puka in the second half, fueled by four points apiece from Michael Encinas and Alakai Gonsalves.
“The boys worked hard out there,” said Kauai coach Ipo Yoshioka. “Kapaa is a good team, and we told the boys to keep executing. We needed to get Kapaa to play our style of basketball.”
Despite a crowd-pleasing long ball from Cromartie in the third quarter, Kapaa continued to outgun Kauai in the quarter, 11-9, and held on to a 36-28 lead following three periods.
The turnaround came in the final period of play when a plus-one play by Cromartie knotted the scoreboards at 36-36 with 6:14 remaining. A pair of free throws by Jim Ehia put Kauai up, 38-36, after time peeled off to show 3:50 remaining in the contest. He followed the charity shots by bucketing the ball up the middle for the 40-36 lead.
Encinas came up with a plus-one play with just 55 seconds remaining on the clock to cut Kauai’s lead to 42-41. Cromartie went 3-4 at the foul line for the 43-41 lead before Kapaa had an opportunity to force a tie or go ahead with just 6.2 seconds remaining.
Gonsalves was fouled and came up empty on the charity stripe before Tecson sealed the win on the tail end of a charity pair with 1.3 seconds showing.
“We made some plays in the end,” Yoshioka said. “We did our free throws. This was a fun game — a fun game to watch, and a fun game to coach.”
Tecson finished with high-point honors for Kauai with 16 points, including a pair of treys and a 4-6 showing at the free throw line. Cromartie added 14 points, including a pair of three-balls and a 6-9 showing at the charity line.
“We had some costly turnovers,” Kauhane said. “We knew we were in for a battle, but we lost our bigs out there to fouls. The ball could’ve bounced either way, tonight. Unfortunately, it didn’t roll our way.”
Encinas led Kapaa with 13 points. Gonsalves had 10 points in the effort. Kamakana Gonzalez ended the night with eight points, including a second-half trey. Hero Raza contributed six points.
Earlier in the evening, Kauai junior varsity team’s Ian Asuncion bucketed 18 points to lead the Red Raiders to a 36-27 edge over the Kapaa JV team, who were led by Waika Rogers’ 10 points.
Kapaa next hosts Waimea High School on Thursday at the Bernice Hundley Gym. The JV match tips off at 5:30 p.m. followed by the varsity contest.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.