Monarchs grow on Garden Island

LIHUE — Kauai High School’s Riana Ralston bucketed a goal with 13 ticks showing to cap a 42-37 win over the Damien Monarchs Saturday night at the Kauai High School gym.

The win ended a three-game series for the Damien High School varsity girls basketball team who started their journey Friday night against the Kapaa Warriors.

“We were close,” said Paul Tanaka, the Damien coach. “We were within two points at the half. Kapaa came back with a 9-0 run, and despite the girls going back and forth, Kapaa won.”

Bobby Kamakele, coach of the Kaulupono basketball program from the Westside, watched all three games, noting that Kapaa won by 10 points.

On Saturday, the Waimea High School girls went up against the Monarchs. The Menehune took that game by 13 points.

“You need to look at Shania Nakamura from Damien,” Kamakele said. “She’s pretty good and has the potential to do some damage.”

The Monarch guard came from a scoreless first quarter to finish leading the Damien effort against Kauai with a game-high 17 points, including a trey in the second quarter and a six-for-13 showing at the charity stripe.

“We were close with all three schools,” Tanaka said. “In all of the games, we were within two points at the half.”

Kauai, after trailing by two, 7-9 at the end of the opening period, pulled ahead by a pair, 23-21 at the half, led by freshman Taegan Keep and Sheryl Tomas with seven points apiece.

“Taegan is one of two freshmen on the team,” said coach Neil Fagarang, who is starting his second year as head coach for Kauai. “The other freshman is Cierra Tanicala. The others are from the junior varsity squad.”

Keep finished by leading the Kauai win on 14 points. Tanicala, the second freshman on the varsity squad, added a digit in the fourth quarter.

Ralston ended with nine points, six coming in the second half. Marisa Martinez, one of the Kauai guards, also tacked on nine points followed by Tomas who got all of her seven points in the second quarter.

Following Nakamura’s lead, the Monarchs got six points from Kamaile Lebanon and Catherine Vatovich. Karly Navas dropped her five points, including a three-ball, in the opening frame.

Kelsey Perreira added a pair and a digit from Montana Carter rounded out the math.

“This is our first year at the varsity level after going coed two years ago,” Tanaka said. “I’m glad we came to Kauai. We got to experience a variety of play from the physical game at Kapaa, the speed in Waimea, and the combination here at Kauai.”

Tanaka said his coaching staff needed to see the girls play.

“We had to bench one of our top scorers after the first game,” Tanaka said. “The other girls had to step up play, and they did. We really got to watch the girls play at this level.”

He said in addition to the good play the Damien girls experienced, he was impressed with the aloha demonstrated by each of the host schools.

“The girls played hard on the court,” Tanaka said. “But after the game, there were some new friendships formed. I want to thank the Kauai community for this aloha.”

Fagarang said Kauai girls will still have another opportunity to play together when the team travels to Maui to participate in the King Kekaulike tournament, Dec. 5-7.

The Kauai Interscholastic Federation girls basketball season opens on Dec. 16 when Kauai hosts Island School in a junior varsity game starting at 5:30 p.m.

Kapaa will travel to the Clem Gomes Gym to meet Waimea with the JV game tipping off at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity following 20 minutes after the completion of the JV game.

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