LIHUE — Kauai High School’s varsity boys basketball team won in its season opening game 69-43 over Waimea at home Saturday night.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start. We were sort of relaxed, then the intensity picked up and they got their groove going,” said Red Raiders head coach Ipo Yoshioka. “For us, it’s just momentum. We want to keep the adrenaline going all game long, whether it’s the guys on the court or off of the court. That’s all it is — keeping things aggressive.”
Kauai (1-0 KIF) got a double-digit lead in the second quarter and didn’t let up. The Red Raiders outscored the Menehune by an average of 6.5 points per quarter.
“Waimea played really well in the first half, in the first quarter. And that’s who they are. They’re going to be scrappy all year long,” Yoshioka said. “They’re going to play hard and play to the end. We got to play from beginning to end all of the time.”
Senior guard Jassem Cumlat was Kauai’s leading scorer with 20 points, and also had 3 assists. Sophomore guard Josaiah Coatie had 7 points. Senior guard Michael Booth and junior forward Kekoa Tecson each had 6.
“We had to step it up in the second half because our defense was lagging in the first half. Our coaches pushed us on defense,” Cumlat said. “We stepped it up and came out with the win.
“It’s is going to be a battle. We’re not taking them, both teams, lightly,” he added about the team’s next game. “(We have to) just play defense.”
Both teams converted about half of their shots at the free throw line. The Menehune were 14-31 and Kauai was 14-30.
Turnovers, however, turned out to be Waimea’s Achilles’ heel. Menehune assistant coach Kawika Smith said if the team can minimize that moving forward, and improve its free throw shooting, games will be more closely contested.
“We took a look at our stats. I think it was like 22 turnovers (we had), so that’s a 44-point turnaround,” he said. “We gave up 2 points, and we weren’t able to make 2 points. That’s definitely a huge gap right there.
“I think one of the positives is we doubled up on our scoring. That’s definitely a positive,” he added. “We got to work on our defense. There’s a lot of holes. Our transition D, too, we need to work on.
Senior guard Bernie Ned and junior forward Kamea Palama-Alquiza each scored 11 points for Waimea. Junior forward Seaton Farias scrored 10 points and senior guard Jamin Fernandez had 9.
Before the varsity match, Waimea won the junior varsity game, 57-44. Dino Pabre, Jr. scored 17 points for the JV Menehune and Joseph Cumlat scored 14 for the Red Raiders.
Kauai will play at Kapaa (1-0 KIF) on Wednesday. The JV game begins at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity will follow. Waimea (0-2 KIF) will play Kapaa on Saturday.
“I’m a coach that (believes each year is) a new team, new slate and new year. We’ll keep working hard. Kapaa’s got a great team and they got good coaches. Waimea’s the same. So, we got to be on top of our game,” Yoshioka said about defending the 2013-14 KIF title. “It’s going to be a rough season. It’s not going to be a walk-in-the-park season. All three teams, they’re going to give each other a game to play.”