KALAHEO — Coming off the heels of two intense basketball tournaments over the weekend, the Kaua‘i Youth Basketball Association and the County of Kaua‘i returned to the hardwoods, Monday night at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.
A pair of Girls 14 and Under games and a Women 18 and Over game greeted fans of the Summer Youth Basketball league along with Kaulupono, a team based out of Kaua‘i’s Westside.
Nicole Palacio lost little time asserting herself for Kaulupono, claiming a game-high 16 points to lead Kaulupono to a 40-24 win over Team Lihu‘e who got strong showings from three of its power players, Ashley Lucas, Laura Koga and Marissa Martinez.
Lihu‘e’s strength, however, was diminished after Koga left with an injury in the fourth quarter to diminish an already short roster. Six players on Lihu‘e’s roster were unavailable for the game.
Lucas and Koga fueled the effort with seven points apiece while Marinez added six points. Kaila Harris finished with four marks.
Following Palacio’s lead, Kaulupono got seven points from Kaelyn Aquino-Kamakele while Lauren Lagoc and Taylor Gaspar each chipped in five.
Kekai Gonsalves, a player with the Kapa‘a High School program, and Autumn Warnock, who made her appearance as an Island School player, combined for 35 points to lead the Kaua‘i Ballers to a 53-13 win over Kamikaze, a Lihu‘e based squad, in the second Girls 14 Under match of the night.
Gonsalves topped the scoring with a game-high 21 points including numerous feeds from the outside before the Kamikaze defense could set up. Warnock finished with 14 points.
Kaelee Esposo led Kamikaze with five points.
Erin Connelly finished with a game-high 14 points to lead Team 808, a collection of alumni players from the different high schools, to a 66-38 showing over TUNDAZ in a Women’s 18 and Over matchup.
Liona Hasegawa led the TUNDAZ effort with a six field goals for 12 points.
KYBA next hosts six games, three at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center and three at the Bernice Hundley Gym in Kapa‘a, Thursday starting at 6 p.m.
The West Kaua‘i Hornets will open against Team Lihu‘e in a Boys 14 Under match at 6 p.m. at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center followed by two Women 18 Over games, BAM taking on the SHAKERS at 7 p.m. and WAIMEA taking on TUNDAZ at 8 p.m.
The Kaua‘i Ballers will open against Hanakila at 6 p.m. at the Bernice Hundley Gym in Kapa‘a in a Boys 14 Under match.
A pair of Men 18 and Over games, Hanakila taking on Westside Pride and Tropang-L taking on the Warriors will follow.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.