KAPAA — The Warrior wahine are one step closer to repeating as Kauai Interscholastic Federation champs.
After securing the season’s first round last week, Kapaa High School’s varsity girls basketball team started the second round with a 44-27 win over Waimea at home on Tuesday night.
“We came in with a plan, but we got a bit sloppy at times,” said Warriors head coach William Aki. “Give credit to Waimea. They didn’t give up. They kept on coming back at us.”
Kapaa led 34-24 when Waimea freshman guard Monique Joy Lorenzo nailed a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to single digits with just more than three minutes left in the fourth quarter.
As time wound down, however, Kapaa capitalized on second-chance opportunities. Sophomore forward Paea Tafea and junior center Siokapesi Paua crashed the boards on offense and made putback layups to widen the gap.
The Warriors also took advantage at the free throw line, converting 7 of 12 attempts in the fourth quarter, 10 of 18 overall. Waimea was 8-14.
“We needed to box out, get strong rebounds and come down strong so that nobody can take it from us,” Tafea said.
The sophomore forward added the team simulated Waimea’s style of play during practice and that is why the result was more decisive. In their last matchup on Jan. 9, Kapaa edged Waimea, 36-33.
“From our previous game, we just watched the teams and watched how they played. We took their plays and worked with it a little,” she said. “That’s what gave us the advantage, because we knew what they were running. We knew how to make our shots. Their defense, we closed it up so they wouldn’t get our passes. We did (give up) a couple of steals, but it’s all good. Most of our plan worked.”
Tafea scored 14 points and Paua had 8 for the Warriors. Junior forwards Tori Daligcon-Pomaikai and Atelaite “Lupe” Tafea each scored 5.
Waimea head coach Brandon Moises said his team played the kind of basketball he expected when it made the run to cut the deficit late in the fourth quarter, but didn’t play as such for the majority of the game.
“All we got to do is play a little bit smarter and execute better on both ends,” he said. “That’s the game of basketball, right? The team who executes (better) than the other team will win.
“I think our players have to accept their roles a little better. Once they accept their roles, accept their matchups and they go after it smart, it’s been shown this year that they can win,” he added. “Tonight, we looked around and kind of waited for somebody else to step up and make a play. That’s not Waimea basketball. We cannot depend on one or two girls. We got to depend on all 11.”
Senior guard Caitlyn Owen, junior center Alyssa Pigao and junior forward Schae-Marie Tavita each scored 6 points for the Menehune.
Waimea (1-4 KIF, 0-1 second round) will host Kauai (2-2 KIF) on Friday. The junior varsity game begins at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity will follow. Kapaa (4-1 KIF, 1-0 second round) will play at Kauai on Tuesday.