LIHU’E — Maybe it was the fact that his grandfather was watching him play high school basketball for the first time.
Maybe it was because a loss would eliminate his squad from title contention.
Maybe it was the thought of never playing in front of the home crowd again at the Raiderdome.
Whatever it was, Kaua’i senior guard Josh Bradbury made the most of his final regular-season game in Lihu’e with a dazzling performance last night as the Red Raiders buried the Warriors 51-44.
Bradbury, who led his team throughout the season, played the biggest game of his life.
“This is the best feeling for me this season,” Bradbury said after the game.
And with everything on the line toward the end of the final period, Bradbury nailed the biggest shot of his life, a long three-point bomb, which sealed the win for the Red Raiders, who improved to 1-2 in second-round play.
“Every hair stood up on my body,” Kaua’i head coach Brandon Fujita said.
Bradbury ended up with a game-high 22 points, but his biggest contributions came at the right times, when the Red Raiders, featuring only two seniors, looked as though they could’ve folded to Kapa’a.
“This is a huge win for this young team. These kids don’t quit. There are no nails in the coffin just yet and we’ve really got nothing to lose,” Fujita said.
The victory by the Red Raiders set up a huge season finale matchup against the first-round champion Menehune squad, who could capture the KIF title with a win on Friday night at the Clem Gomes Gymnasium.
The Warriors, who won three straight games, have now lost two consecutive games after starting off the second round 2-0.
Kapa’a led early on with leads of 15-6 and 22-18 at the midpoint of the contest.
Mike Lindsey and Nate Beralas paced the Warrior effort with 14 and 10 points, respectively. Greg Ragsac provided good leadership at the point and Halem Medina came up with big boards in the paint.
However, Kaua’i climbed back into the game in the second half, thanks to Jordan Cox, who drilled two straight shots for the 26-26 tie at the 4:20 mark in the third.
Kapa’a elbowed its way to the lead, as Lindsey muscled in a lay up for the 43-37 advantage with just under four minutes to go in the contest.
Then it was Bradbury time, with the senior taking over the game with a couple of big shots and nice passes to tie the game up at 44 apiece with a minute left in the fourth quarter.
After a Ragsac miss at the charity stripe, Bradbury dribbled down the left side of the court and drilled the gamewinning three-pointer. Free throws by Bradbury and Travis Stine glued the door shut on the Warriors.
Stine and Cox finished up with eight points each and Medina and Salausa added five points apiece for Kapa’a.
The Warriors cruised in the JV game with a 58-47 win behind 20 big points from Kekoa Prem. Aric Cansino led the Red Raiders with 18 points.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or email@example.com