KAPA‘A — The Kapa‘a Warriors knew to not overlook the Waimea Menehune.
Despite the Kaua‘i Red Raiders mathematically eliminating Waimea from KIF title contention last week, Warrior head coach Philip Baclayon told his team to expect a spirited effort from the Menehune Tuesday night.
Good thing the Warriors were prepared, because Baclayon was right.
The Warriors had to use a late game charge to thwart a strong Waimea start en route to a 58-50 Kapa‘a victory Tuesday night at Kapa‘a High School.
The Warriors were led by Kainoa Colipano with 20 points.
Waimea charged out of the gates with its best start of the season and led 31-26 at the half. The Menehune, obviously not suffering from an elimination hangover, rained three-pointers from all over the court.
Waimea drained 10 threes in the game, with Duke Yadao contributeing four of those on his way to nine total points.
The Warriors struggled from the floor in the first half, but the team’s ability to garner its own rebounds and produce second and third shot attempts kept the Warriors in the game.
“We started out pretty cold on the inside. We sometimes had six or seven pops at it, and the shots finally went in,” Baclayon said. “Waimea gave us a tough time inside, and we really had to battle.”
But the second and third shot attempts disappeared in the second half, as the Warriors finally started sinking their first shots.
Willis Batol ignited the offense in the third quarter with several steals and stellar passing, while Colipano continued his consistent game on the inside.
Batol scored 8 of his 12 points in the second half, while Colipano added 14 points in the half.
“He does a lot of things for us that aren’t in the stats,” Baclayon said of Colipano. “Year-round, he’s been an enforcer.”
For the Menehune, Paul Oligo finished with 13 points while Kaili Schumacher-Lagundio added nine.
The win improves the Warriors’ KIF Round 2 record to 3-0. The Warriors play the 2-1 Kaua‘i Red Raiders on Thursday in Kaua‘i. The Warriors, who won Round 1, control their own destiny heading into that game.
A win will secure the KIF title for the Warriors. In order for the Red Raiders to remain in contention, they’ll have to beat the Warriors Thursday to force a Round 2 playoff, and then win the playoff game, which will force a KIF championship playoff, and then win that game for the title.
By beating the Menehune Tuesday night, Baclayon’s Warriors made their path to the title much easier.
“I told the guys that every game in Round 2 is going to be big because everybody is getting better and stronger,” he said. “We knew it was going to be a battle all the way to the end and that’s what it’s turning out to be.”