Warriors clinch first round title

WAIMEA — One down, one more to go. That’s the favorite phrase for the Warrior girls basketball team, who clinched the first round KIF title last night, 46-40 over Waimea at the Clem Gomes Gymnasium.

“I think we escaped. Waimea played really hard,” Kapa’a coach Gary Kodani said after the close contest.

The Warriors utilized a strong third quarter in which they distanced themselves from the Menehune, who were playing catch-up from the beginning. Kennilyn Nakamura and Brittney Carvalho led the way with 13 points apiece for Kapa’a. Poe Gantt chipped in with eight. For Waimea, sharp-shooting freshman guard Natalie Mata poured in a game-high 18 points, which included three trifectas. Anna Jacinto added six in the loss. Both squads came out of the gates sluggish and struggled to find the hoop in the first quarter, with the game tied 8-8 at the end of one period.

Kapa’a went on a 10-0 run at the end of the second quarter, thanks to Nakamura, Michelle Toy, Gantt, and Carvalho, who provided the fireworks.

But Mata’s treys kept the Menehune close and at the half, the Warriors led, 22-18.

Carvalho highlighted the third quarter for Kapa’a with five points for the 34-23 lead with 1:30 to go. However, it was Mata who saved the Menehune from falling behind further, with a buzzer-beater, ending the period, 36-27 in favor of the Warriors.

Kapa’a cruised the rest of the way, as Gantt sealed the game with a couple of free throws for the first round title clincher.

“It’s a sigh of relief. It’s just one step and we gotta win our next game,” Kodani said.

In the JV contest, Kapa’a edged Waimea, 36-31, behind 11 points from Leilani Laranio and seven from Sarah Tangalin. Sera Pascual paced Waimea with 10, followed by Mollie Connelly with eight and Tatum Gonsalves with seven.

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