KALAHEO — A Sierra “Pili” Chung bucket and a charity pair gave Team Lihu‘e the nudge it needed to get past the Kamikaze, 23-22, Monday night at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.
Chung, who pocketed a charity pair with just 24 ticks remaining, finished with eight points to lead Team Lihu‘e.
Throughout the night, the two teams battled, neither side able to gain a lead greater than two points until the final two minutes of play, when Sheryl Ann Tomas pulled the Kamikaze up by three, 20-17 at the 1:41 mark.
A flurry of empty charity attempts wound down the clock and Chung pulled the Kamikaze back into the fray with a bucket at the 1:24 mark.
Ashley Lucas, who finished the game with five points, added a pair to pull Team Lihu‘e ahead, 21-20, at the 1:13 mark before Chung iced the win with a charity pair with 24 seconds to play.
Following Chung, Marissa Martinez, a quick-moving guard for Team Lihu‘e, added six points.
Tomas paced the Kamikaze effort with seven points, followed by guard Monique Tomacder adding six points in the Girls Under 14 matchup.
Coach Keven Hanano of the Kamikaze said the last meeting of the two teams saw Kamikaze slide by 13 points.
Earlier in the evening, the Kaulupono girls felt the loss of their strong guard Nicole Palacio, who left for a guest appearance at the Coach Dennis Agena basketball camp on O‘ahu. Kaulupono was kept on the outside and victimized by turnovers from the taller, quicker Kaua‘i Ballers who took the game 53-14.
Kekai Gonsalves topped the scoring with a game-high 18 points, followed by Shai-Anne Abigania adding 10 points for the Kaua‘i Ballers in the opening Girls 14 and Under game.
Shae-Marie Tavita topped the Kaulupono effort with three points.
Janna Soto came up with 17 points and guard Ashley Mier added 10 points to lead the Shakers to a 58-48 edge over Bajingas (Waimea), a team made up of Waimea High School girls basketball players.
Vakeesha Lagazo finished with a game-high 18 points to lead Bajingas with Nikki Banasihan adding nine points.
Karen Matsumoto, coodinator for the Kaua‘i Youth Basketball Association, said the Summer Youth Basketball program resumes Saturday following the 14th Annual KYBA 17-Under Division 8-Team Tournament, which starts its three-day run Thursday at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.
Kaua‘i will field four teams and host Ikaika Basketball of O‘ahu, coached by Clayton Tang, as well as Hilo, coached by Jason Mandaquit. Mandaquite became acquainted with Tab Matsumoto when the Kaua‘i basketball team traveled to Kona for a tournament.
Hanakila, coached by Phil Baclayon, will open the action Thursday at 6:30 p.m. against Lokahi, coached by Mits Yokotake and Lew Lindsey.
Ikaika Basketball will go up against Waimea, coached by Bobby Kamakele, at 7:30 p.m., followed by Hilo taking on the Kaua‘i Ballers, coached by Willy Aki, starting at 8:30 p.m.
The pool play continues Friday with Hanakila taking on Waimea at 6:30 p.m., followed by Hilo taking on Lokahi at 7:30 p.m. and Ikaika meeting the Kaua‘i Ballers at 8:30 p.m.
The championship game is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m., Saturday.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.