Last second thriller

LIHUE — Warriors junior center Siokapesi Paua grabbed a rebound from a missed free throw and made a short, go-ahead jump shot with 10 seconds left on the clock in overtime.

With that jumper, Kapaa High School’s varsity girls basketball team edged Kauai, 30-28, Tuesday night at the Red Raiders home gym.

With the win, Kapaa (5-1 KIF, 2-0 second round) is now in the driver’s seat in the second round with just two games left in its Kauai Interscholastic Federation season.

“I was so excited,” Paua said about her game-winner. “I felt so happy. Just happy.”

Paua also made the game-tying layup in the last minute of the fourth quarter to end regulation in a 23-23 stalemate.

“Our coaches were just saying to keep your head up, don’t stop working and that the game isn’t over until the buzzer rings,” Paua said. “We had to work through it.”

Kapaa got several chances to close the deficit by forcing turnovers with its full-court press defense. 

Though the Warrior girls did not have a lead for the majority of the game, including overtime, Kapaa head coach William Aki said his team pulled out the victory because of patience.

“We were trying to keep the girls in the game and not get them frustrated even through we were down in regulation and down in halftime,” Aki said. “We tried to keep them focused. Until the buzzer goes off, we still had a chance.” 

Red Raiders junior guard Marissa Martinez hit a running floater to give Kauai a 28-25 lead with just more than 1 minute left in the added period. 

Warriors senior guard Shai-anne Abigania then nailed a 3-point jumper moments later to even the score before Paua made the game-winning shot.

“We worked hard tonight and tried to draw up different plays just to try to get some open shots,” Aki said. “Luckily, (Paua) got that little jumper right on the baseline.”

Kauai (3-3 KIF, 1-1 second round) had one last possession to tie or go ahead with seconds left. But the inbounds pass was intercepted and the ball bounced around until time ran out.

Red Raiders head coach Neil Fagarang said, although he and his players came up short, there wasn’t anything he would have changed in the game. It was a matter of not executing in that final possession.

“We didn’t convert. At the end, four seconds left, we drew up the play, we just needed to get that ball in. It was tipped,” he said about their last chance. “Not taking anything away from Kapaa. They made some awesome shots. They made shots when they really needed it to count, and we didn’t.”

He said there was a lesson to take away from the nail-biter.

“They just got to keep their heads up. It’s not like they didn’t play hard. I didn’t see anybody give up. They kept fighting all the way through,” Fagarang said. “It’s just, again, turnovers. In order to win at the end, you cannot turn over the ball. We were leading all the way until the last minute.”

Paua was Kapaa’s leading scorer with nine points. Abigania scored seven points, and both junior forward Tori Daligcon-Pomaikai and sophomore forward Paea Tafea each scored six for the Warriors.

Freshman center Taegan Keep led Kauai’s offense, also with nine points. Sophomore guard Monique Tomacder had eight points. 

Kapaa also won the junior varsity match, 43-13.

Kapaa will play at Waimea (1-5 KIF, 0-2 second round) on Friday. The JV game will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity will follow. Kauai will host Waimea on Tuesday.

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