KALAHEO — First there were three, then there was one.
Kahuku, the only team visiting Kaua‘i for the Rotary Youth Basketball tournament, finished its two-day run on the Garden Island by taking the title for the 14 and Under division, Saturday at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.
“Two teams canceled out at the last minute,” said Jeff Venzon of the ZZ Basketball program which co-hosted the tournament along with the Rotary Club of West Kaua‘i.
That tournament started Thursday with Kaua‘i teams in the 12 and Under and 14 and Under age groups playing through four games.
Hanakila, coached by Phil Baclayon of Kilauea, claimed the 12 and Under division in the three-day tournament, besting teams from Kapa‘a and Papalina.
“Kahuku isn’t coming until Friday,” said Leland Tottori, of the Rotary Club of West Kaua‘i. “But the intent of the tournament is to give our Kaua‘i players an opportunity to play teams from off-island. They play each other throughout the year and the only way they can get better is when they play someone from outside of Kaua‘i.”
At home, coach Cecil Gee who had two teams playing in the Rotary Youth Basketball tourney, said he has plans to take two teams to Maui for a tournament there, but has been hit by rising costs for both the airlines and hotel.
“We’re about $4,800 short,” Gee said. “There’s less than two weeks before we have to leave and we need help to make up that difference.”
Gee’s traveling contingent consists of 22 players and five chaperones who will be taking part in a six-day tournament from July 14 to July 20.
“This tournament is a rare opportunity for the kids to compete with kids from all of the Mainland,” Gee said. “We have a 3-point shooting contest during the competitive summer league and we’ll have another car wash in front of Macy’s, Kukui Grove, on July 13.”
Similar woes affect Karen Matsumoto of the Kaua‘i Youth Basketball Association which will host a Girls 15 and Under tournament starting Thursday at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.
“We had four teams, one from O‘ahu, Maui, Hilo and Kona to start,” Matsumoto said. “But now we’re down to two teams.”
Matsumoto said one team had indicated that rising airline costs and the lack of time to do a fundraiser were reasons for postponing the squad’s trip. She said the team wants to come and play, but will settle for a trip here later in August.