WAIMEA — There will be a new KIF girls basketball champion this season, as Waimea eliminated the two-time defending champs 52-43 last night at the Clem Gomes Gym.
“The KIF is a great league. It gives you second chances. I told the girls before the game that you put yourselves in this position and fortunately, we came out on top,” Waimea coach Elton Montemayor said.
The win enabled Waimea to capture the second-round title, which gives them a shot at first-round champion Kapa‘a for all the cookies in the jar.
“Both teams are playing well. Kapa‘a has turned it on in the past two games. It’s going to be a dogfight. I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Montemayor said.
Menehune forward Cheri Kua played the game of her life, with numerous boards and key buckets.
The low-scoring affair (18-15 at the half) continued in the second half, with Waimea holding slim leads and at the end of three, it was 34-30 in favor of the girls in blue.
The Menehune opened up a 10-point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter, as Natalie Mata’s turnaround jumper made it 40-30. Kaua‘i senior guard Rachel Taira answered with an unconventional three-point play a minute later, cutting the lead down to seven (40-33) with 5:25 on the clock.
Moani Durant and Mata kept Waimea ahead, but with 2:10 to go, Kaua‘i’s Carie Inouye drilled a three-pointer, which sliced the advantage down to four (46-43).
However, Waimea converted crucial free throws for the 52-43 win. Mata led the Menehune with 18 points. Taira had a game-high 24 and Inouye chimed in with 17 points.
In the JV game, Waimea outlasted Kaua‘i 34-27, thanks to 11 points from Tatum Gonsalves. Kathleen Cadiente and Wailana Borrero led Kaua‘i with eight points apiece.
The KIF girls basketball championship game is set for Tuesday at the Clem Gomes Gym, with Waimea battling Kapa‘a for the title at 7 p.m.
• Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or firstname.lastname@example.org.