WAIMEA — As the gym filled up to near capacity in Waimea, the girls on the court gave enough heart in the championship game last night to fill up both home courts.
But in the end, Kapa‘a prevailed, 54-51 to capture the 2006 Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation championship.
“We hung together and stayed together. Winning in Waimea is really special,” Kapa‘a coach Gary Kodani said.
Kapa‘a senior spark plug Michelle Toy put up 12 big points, most of which came in crucial points of the contest.
“It’s all about team and heart for us. We pulled together. My heart dropped when we found out we had to play here. (We knew) it would take more heart to win here,” Toy said.
Waimea, the second round champions was led by Moani Durant and Natalie Mata. Durant canned a game-high 21 points and Mata added 13 in the defeat.
Kapa‘a’s Kieren Pond played the game of her life, scoring a team-high 13 points. Kennilyn Nakamura chipped in with 10.
Kapa‘a rolled through the first round without a blemish, but the start of round two was a rude awakening, as the Warriors fell to both Waimea and Kaua‘i to begin 0-2.
“We had to re-focus. We got a little complacent after the first round, but the kids came through. We just kept it simple and didn’t get away from what we were trying to do,” Kodani said.
Kapa‘a ran out to a 17-6 first quarter lead, thanks to Pond, who threw in two baskets for the early advantage.
Waimea cruised back with an 8-0 run at the midpoint of the second quarter, with Mata and Durant leading the way. Kapa‘a opened up with a six point lead with a few seconds on the clock, as Danielle Creamer grabbed a board and sliced her way to a bucket off the glass for the 32-26 bulge. But Durant’s free throws made the halftime score, 32-28.
The Warriors continued to hold a slight lead in the third and Nakamura’s three-point bomb made the tally, 43-40 in favor of the girls in green.
Both teams traded baskets in the fourth period and with the score tied at 51 with 38 seconds on the clock, Toy canned two free throws for the 53-51 lead. Nakamura added a free throw for the three point lead (54-51), with just 11 seconds to go. Poe Gantt then grabbed a Waimea miss, but she turned the ball over, giving the Menehune one last chance.
Nakamura jolted in for the game-winning steal, which sealed the title for the Warriors, 54-51.
• Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257) or email@example.com.