LIHU’E — It was only a preseason game, but it had the feel of a late in the season contest, especially at the end, as Kaua’i, the two-time defending KIF champions, stunned Punahou II, 47-45 at the Raider-dome last night.
The Buffnblu led from the tip, but the Red Raiders eased back into the game, thanks to reigning KIF Player of the Year, Rachel Taira, whose late game heroics enabled the girls in red to prevail.
Punahou jumped out to a 22-13 halftime advantage, but as the third quarter began, the fire alarms went off at the Raiderdome — literally, as Taira and Carie Inouye nailed three-point bombs to close the gap at 26-21.
However, just as the alarms silenced, the Buffnblu galloped out to a 36-28 lead. Taila Autele and Erin Nagata paced the ILH school’s efforts in the second half.
The Red Raiders staged their comeback with just under two minutes to go in the game, as Taira threw in two buckets while being fouled. After completing the second unconventional three-point play, Kaua’i was able to tie the score up at 43-43.
Then a Taira steal and two free throws gave the Red Raiders their first lead of the contest at 45-43 with under a minute to go.
Taira and Inouye converted crucial free shots, with the Buffnblu faltering at the charity stripe, handing the Red Raiders the 47-45 win.
Taira paced Kaua’i with 17 points and Inouye chipped in with 11 points. Autele and Nagata poured in nine points each for Punahou.
The Buffnblu head to the Bernice Hundley Gymnasium tonight at 7 p.m. to battle the Warriors.
Waimea faces the Buffnblu tomorrow, 7 p.m. at the Clem Gomes Gymnasium.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or email@example.com.