WAIMEA — The Menehune girls basketball team finished its season with one last victory.
Waimea High School defeated Kauai 48-32 on the team’s Senior Night Friday, ending its regular season with a bang.
“We didn’t take the (KIF) title, but being that we’re the first team to go out with a winning record (in eight years), we accomplished something,” said Menehune senior guard Nicole Palacio.
A 16-0 run at the start of the opening quarter helped Waimea (2-2 in second round) secure the final win at home.
“The reason it went so well, I think, is because we realized it was the last game with this team,” Palacio said. “Even the juniors were crying because they didn’t want (the seniors) to leave … That’s the reason we went so hard. We understood this was our last game. We had no second chance.”
Palacio scored nine points in the game.
Waimea head coach Brandon Moises said this year’s team, especially its eight seniors who were honored that night, have laid a foundation for the school’s program and hopes it will build on those successes in future seasons.
“That was the goal of reviving the program,” he said. “I saw it develop against Kapaa last week and I saw it in its definitive moment tonight.
“Of course I would have loved to have won the title with eight stellar seniors who bought in,” he said. “Instead of coming back trying to fix things, we’re going to come back and try to grow upon things. For me, that’s a big difference.”
After ending the first three quarters with a 40-15 deficit, the Red Raiders’ offense surged and scored 16 points in the final period.
The team, however, couldn’t produce enough points to cut Waimea’s lead into single digits.
Kauai (1-3 in second round) head coach Neil Fagarang said losing the last game was disappointing, but he wasn’t at all unsatisfied with his team’s efforts.
“Seeing them come back, making it closer at the end, that shows their character,” he said. “The kids had fun. I had fun. It was a great experience.”
Kauai’s leading scorer was junior center Riana Ralston with eight points, six of which were scored in the fourth quarter.
Waimea’s squad was without one of its seniors, center Mariyah Oliver.
Her brother Bobby, who plays for the school’s boys basketball team, was in attendance and said his sister was in Oahu participating in a volleyball combine.
Palacio said although Oliver wasn’t with the team in person, she was there in spirit.
“Mariyah actually texted all of us. She said that she was sorry she couldn’t make it but to have a good night, to enjoy our last night,” Palacio said. “She reminded us that even though she wasn’t here physically, she was still supporting us all the way through.”
Menehune senior center Kawena Warren said she wished the season was longer.
“I’m sad that it’s over. Especially since, as a team, we felt like we could have gone all the way,” she said. “Everybody wants a little more time, especially being a senior.”
Warren scored six points in the game.