KALAHEO — Ten 12 and Under basketball teams took the floor of the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, Thursday night as the ZZ Basketball and the Rotary Club of West Kaua‘i opened its annual basketball tournament.
“We tried to get some off-island teams to participate, but I guess the economy makes traveling prohibitive,” said Leland Tottori of the Rotary Club of West Kaua‘i. “The purpose of this tournament was to attract off-island teams to come and play with our kids.”
But that did not deter the tournament from opening as six boys teams and four girls teams were at the hardwoods at game time.
The tournament format is pool play on Thursday and Friday nights with five games scheduled on each night and playoffs and championships taking place Saturday starting at 8 a.m.
Jeff Venzon, the tournament director from ZZ Basketball, said there were two Lihu‘e teams and two Hanakila teams participating.
Philip Baclayon, coach for the Hanakila program, said he had his hands full with a double-header for the Hanakila boys and a single game for the Hanakila girls at the Kalaheo tournament. He also had a Hanakila 8th and 9th grade team participating at the Merv Lopes Kaua‘i Hoops Classic at Island School at the same time.
“I’ve got one coach at Island School and I’m taking care of these teams here,” he said. “It works out.”
Kori Sakamoto exchanged her coach’s outfit for the game official outfit after Kaulupono got past the Hanakila girls in one of two opening games, 25-12 led by Jasmine Santella pocketing 10 points.
“We just played them Wednesday night for the Kaua‘i Youth Basketball Association Summer Youth Games league,” Sakamoto said. “There were no surprises.”
Jaliyn Casem topped the Hanakila girls’ effort.
Earlier in the night, the Kaua‘i Ballers girls team forfeited its match to Team Lihu‘e girls. But the Kaua‘i Ballers, making a concerted comeback effort in the final period, could not redeem the loss, dropping to Team Lihu‘e I, 32-22 led by Thomas Yam, on fire in the final frame and finishing with 13 points. Marty Lacierna topped the Team Lihu‘e I victory with 10 points.
Laurence Avela finished with a game-high 22 points to lead the Hanakila I team to a 47-33 win over Team Lihu‘e II who got 15 points from Briggs Agu in the second of three boys’ matches.
Trestin Avelu finished with a game-high 20 points to lead the Hanakila 2 squad to its 36-31 edge over the Team Lihu‘e I squad who got a dozen marks from Michael Lasal.
The public is invited to the playoffs and championships starting at 8 a.m., Saturday. There is no charge. A food booth is available.