KAPAA — A week has past since Kapaa High School’s varsity girls basketball team won the Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship. It’s had time to enjoy winning a second-consecutive title, but is now working toward the task that lies ahead.
“This team still has to grow going into the next level of play. It’s coming out decent, but we’re not ready yet,” said Kapaa head coach William Aki during Thursday’s practice about looking forward to the state tournament. “With the experience that they had from (states) last year, and going into the preseason this year, they carried themselves really well. We just got to work on a little but more on their shooting and scoring, as far as confidence goes.”
For senior guard Ariel Cummings, she knows her days as a Kapaa High basketball player are dwindling down. She hopes to relish playing at states as much as she can with the team she’s played with for years.
“It’s emotional. I’m trying not to be sad like this is my last game. I’m trying to look at it in a positive way – like this is my last hurrah to play basketball with these girls,” she said. “I don’t know if I’m going to go farther than this, but I really like basketball. Playing with them makes it so much more fun.”
The senior guard added that she and the four others who played in last year’s state tourney — senior guard Shai-anne Abigania, junior forward Tori Daligcon-Pomaikai, junior center Siokapesi Paua and sophomore forward Paea Tafea — have shared their experiences with team members who are about to play in the event for the first time.
“Each five has a different person that they talk to. If they ever have questions, they come talk to us. And if we see them struggling, we go to them,” Cummings said. “We kind of have a big sister – little sister thing going on, but we’re the same age. It’s kind of cool.”
Paua and Tafea played last season with the school’s junior varsity team, but traveled with the varsity girls to states last year.
“It wasn’t that bad. As long as you’re really playing your game, there’s no difference. It’s just that varsity has more experienced players,” Tafea said about competing last year on Oahu. “We just went up there and did what we wanted to do. I know we only won one game up there, but we just played to play and represent. And we had fun, and that’s the main thing.
“I already know what to expect. I know that when I go up there, there’s taller girls, faster girls, better ball handlers and stronger girls. But it’s really just about who wants it more,” she added about going again this year. “You really want to go up there and play. My seniors, I love my seniors. So, I play for the seniors and for this team.”
The New City Nissan Girls Basketball Championships — Division II tournament begins Tuesday. Kapaa’s first opponent has yet to be determined as of Friday.
“They can pull themselves through. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to get there somehow,” Aki said. “They can do this. Coming from a small island and such a small league, Molokai did it a few years ago. We can as well.”