To clinch or not to clinch, that’s tonight’s question

It’s still early in the KIF girls basketball season, but the biggest game so far happens tonight at the Clem Gomes Gymnasium, between Waimea (1-1) and Kapa’a (2-0).

If the Warriors prevail, they’ll take home the first-round trophy and punch half of their ticket to the big dance in mid-May.

Kapa’a coach Gary Kodani has seen team play in a close game and another contest in which they were in control from the start.

Against Waimea in the KIF’s opener on March 28, Kapa’a led 43-31 after three quarters of play and eventually ran away with the 54-39 victory.

Kapa’a’s Kennilyn Nakamura erupted for 21 points and Poe Gantt chipped in with 12. Natalie Mata and Moani Durant had the hot hands for the Menehune, combining for 26 points.

Waimea coach Elton Montemayor might have his young squad peak at the right time.

With both Cheri Kua and Josey Jacinto in the lineup, the Menehune should pose a tougher challenge tonight, especiallly with some confidence brewing from their win against Kaua’i on Tuesday.

So far this season, top Kapa’a performers include Nakamura, who is as tough as they come, Gantt, a space eater, Brittney Carvalho, a rebounding machine, Michelle Toy, a heady player, Mailika Napoleon, the young rising star, April Johnson, the general at the point, and Kieren Pond, the light-hearted assassin.

Waimea’s top guns include Tasha Acosta, a no-nonsense player, Durant, a sharp-shooter, Mata, a star in the making, Josey Jacinto, whose got the best handles in the league, Kua, a terror in the paint, Lorrine Lagoc-Agrade, an all-around performer, Aiko Grande, a steady defender, and Anna Jacinto, the heart of the team.

Tonight’s KIF girls basketball game might come down to the charity stripe, so both teams need to convert from the line, if they expect to come out on top.

Both squads have strong guards, but Kapa’a has the slight edge on the inside, with Carvalho and Gantt leading the way.

Look for Waimea to force the tempo and watch out for Kapa’a’s strong inside game to take over the game.

  • KIF Girls Hoops: Kapa’a vs. Waimea, Clem Gomes Gymnasium, tonight.
  • Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or

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