Team Lihu‘e, Papalina-Blue come up short in Kalaheo

KALAHEO — Mosese Fifita and a bench of six  was too much for Team Lihu‘e’s bench of one to overcome, Thursday night at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.

Clearly the tallest player on the floor, Fifita pocketed a game-high 21 points, 15 coming in the second period, to lead the Kaua‘i Ballers to a 54-26 win over Team Lihu‘e in the first of two games played in the county’s youth winter boys basketball league for students in the sixth through eighth grades.

Anchored by Jeremiah “Shaggy” Sanchez and the deft ball movement by Noah Sasil and Joseph Cumlat, Papalina-Orange picked up steam in the second half to outrun Papalina-Blue, 55-34 in the second contest of the night.

With Papalina coach Clyde Vito split on coaching duties, Tine Howard took the reins of the Orange squad, his son Jonah doing a strong job in the No. 3 position, finishing with 12 points in the victory, third only to Sanchez who finished with 17 points balanced throughout the six periods.

Joseph Cumlat, whose older brother Jessem is part of the Kaua‘i High School Junior Varsity program, spread his 15 points over the game.

Noah Sasil, at one point tumbling and writhing in pain on the floor, could not be stopped, finishing with seven points in the win. Brayden Miyamoto pocketed a pair in the fifth period and La‘akea Hanohano dropped a pair in the second period to round out the win.

Daniel Fee, victimized by the hammering of traffic on the inside, topped the Papalina-Blue scoring with 11 points followed by Braeden Armstrong who opened the game with a bomb from outside the three-point arc en route to his game-total nine points.

Kai Lewis, cautioned by Vito not to foul out, finished with nine points, including a three-ball in the final period. Seaton Farias added four and a digit from Noah Thompson rounded out the Blue effort.

Andrew Vetter netted three points, including a one-for-three showing at the foul line, and Jacob Lambardo dropped a bucket to lead Team Lihu‘e to a 5-3 showing at the end of the first period.

It was the only lead the blackshirts coached by Peter Rayno, longtime Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation basketball official, would enjoy.

The Kaua‘i Ballers, coached by Willy Aki, coming off his season at the helm of the Kapa‘a High School girls’ basketball team, exploded for a 17-3 second period run and never looked back, Fifita bucketing 15 of the team’s 17 points.

Following Fifita, the Ballers got balanced scoring from its troops, Thomas Yam finishing with eight points, including two treys, Junard Mata added seven points, six coming in the fifth period, Willow Batol dropped six points along with Mikela Matayoshi. Dave Joel added four points, Jalen Tacsiat marked three and Christopher Yam added a digit for the win.

Tajh Mapuhi, key to Team Lihu‘e’s rebounding, finished with 10 points to lead the team. Vetter finished with eight points, Lambardo added four, Jeremy Colobong finished with three and a digit from Dexter Echavez, the other Team Lihu‘e low post, rounded out the effort.

The boys next take the floor, Saturday at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center when Team Central B meets Lepo Ula in the 10 a.m. opener followed by Westside Basketball tangling with Hanakila at 11 a.m.

On Valentine’s Day, the boys move back to the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center when Team Central A meets Team Lihu‘e starting at 6 p.m. followed by Team Central B taking on Westside Basketball at 7 p.m.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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