WAIMEA — Youth served Waimea well last night. The Menehune survived a late Kaua‘i comeback for the 43-41 win last night at a mosquito-infested Clem Gomes Gymnasium.
Head coach Elton Montemayor came into the season knowing that he had a young team, but what he didn’t know was how they would play this year.
“We had four freshman out there at one time. I hope this win shows them what great potential they have,” Montemayor said.
Waimea controlled the contest from the start and ended up with a 21-18 halftime lead, as Moani Durant nailed a free throw for the three point bulge.
Durant kept the momentum going towards the westside by canning two three-pointers and Joanna Jacinto added a long bucket for the 29-18 lead.
Kaua‘i guard Rachel Taira stopped the bleeding with a trifecta, but Waimea turned on the heat, with a 12-3 run with just under three minutes on the clock in the third quarter.
Lorrine Lagoc-Agrade, Jacinto, and Durant contributed to the Menehune surge in the third, which gave them the 38-25 advantage heading into the final period.
However, the Red Raiders saved their best performance for the fourth quarter, as Ho‘onani Dennis poured in a couple of treys early on in the period.
Natalie Mata answered with two straight buckets, which handed the Menehune the 42-31 lead at the five minute mark.
Kaua‘i’s Tamalyn Hasegawa went on a scoring rampage, with help from Carie Inouye, who dished out an assist, which put the Red Raiders down by just two points with a minute to go.
After a Menehune turnover, Taira controlled the possession and was fouled, but her free throw rounded out and the Menehune took over the possession.
Waimea failed to close out the contest with its own set of free throws, but with just a second on the clock, Taira’s final attempt was partially blocked and the Menehune prevailed, 43-41.
Waimea played without the services of key players in Josey Jacinto and Cheri Kua.
But Montemayor got good play from his reserves, who picked up the slack.
“Aiko (Grande), Tasha (Acosta), and Anna (Jacinto) played big for us last night,” Montemayor said.
Durant led Waimea with 17 points and Mata chipped in with 13.
Taira paced Kaua‘i with 17 points, followed by Dennis with 12, and Hasegawa with 10.
Waimea improved to 1-1 in the first round and Kaua‘i dropped to 0-2. Kapa‘a sits atop the KIF girls basketball standings at 2-0.
In the JV contest, Waimea cruised to a 57-35 win, thanks to 13 points from Tatum Gonsalves and 11 from Sera Pascual.
Wailana Borrero led the Red Raiders once again with a game-high 14 points.
On Friday, the Warriors face Waimea at the Clem Gomes Gymnasium.
JV action begins at 5:30 p.m. The varsity contest starts 20 minutes after the completion of the JV game.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or email@example.com.