For Kapaa senior Ariel Cummings, just to be named an all star would have been satisfying enough to place a bookend on her high school career. To be named player of the year, however, she was in disbelief.
“It’s just so cool I got it this year. I’m so happy,” she said Wednesday in a phone interview. “It’s honestly the perfect ending. It’s the perfect way to end my high school career.”
The Kauai Interscholastic Federation coaches finalized the list of all stars and selected their players of the year sometime after the end of the basketball seasons.
Warriors varsity girls basketball head coach William Aki said his starting guard was chosen because of the work ethic she showed as a team captain.
“Her hard work and her dedication, especially on the defensive side. She didn’t give us much on offense, but she worked very hard on defense,” Aki said about Cummings. “She tried to make sure the team kept going. She was a very good captain this year.”
Kapaa’s varsity girls won the KIF championship this year and placed fifth at the New City Nissan Girls Basketball Championships — Division II tournament last month.
“They played very well at the tournament. We know we could have played better, but the outcome was better than how we did last year at states,” Aki said. “Now, we can gear up for next year.”
Cummings added her senior year was the most fun season she’s been a part of and being named player of the year is icing on the cake.
“It was like a family. We’re like sisters. Honestly, there was no drama,” she said. “I see them at school every day, but I miss seeing them at practice.”
Aki was named girls basketball coach of the year, as voted by his peers.
“To me, it means that the rest of the coaches appreciate the hard work that it takes to accomplish the goals we had set in the beginning of the season,” the Warriors coach said.
Kauai senior guard Jassem Cumlat was selected as the boys player of the year.
“I’m really happy I got it. I worked hard in the offseason, and I worked hard in the weight room,” Cumlat said. “Hard work pays off.”
Red Raiders varsity boys basketball head coach Ipo Yoshioka said though player of the year is an individual accolade, Cumlat won it because he was a team player through-and-through.
“He had his goals and he knew what he wanted to accomplish. But for Jassem, the biggest thing was his team. He was never about himself,” Yoshioka said. “It shows his character and his ability to play.”
Kauai’s varsity boys finished the regular season a perfect 8-0 en route to winning the KIF title. The team was 0-2 at the New City Nissan Boys Basketball Championships — Division II tournament last month.
“I expected we would do better,” Cumlat said about states. “It wasn’t the outcome we wanted, but we played our best. That’s all that mattered.”
“I think it’s the team bonding together as tight as they did,” Yoshioka added about this year’s squad. “They were a really close-knit team. They really pulled together.”
Yoshioka also won boys coach of the year.
“I really don’t keep track of those things. It’s never been about me. It’s always been about these kids,” he said. “It’s a great honor, and I really appreciate it. But as coaches, we coach to teach. It’s about building kids into young adults.
“(Kapaa head coach John Kaneholani and Waimea head coach Chris Acoba), they should be coach of the year, too. They’re here for the same reason I’m here,” Yoshioka added.
KIF BASKETBALL ALL STARS
Guard: Shai-anne Abigania, senior, Kapaa
Guard: Caitlyn Owen, senior, Waimea
Center: Taegan Keep, freshman, Kauai
Forward: Tori Daligcon-Pomaikai, junior, Kapaa
Forward: Paea Tafea, sophomore, Kapaa
Utility: Tiana Apilado, senior, Waimea
Player of the Year: Ariel Cummings, senior, Kapaa
Coach of the Year: William Aki, Kapaa
Guard: Jamin Fernandez, senior, Waimea
Guard: Josiah Coatie, sophomore, Kauai
Center: Melvin Tingzon, senior, Kauai
Forward: Mosese Fifita, junior, Kapaa
Forward: Matthew Cummings, senior, Kapaa
Utility: Joshua Blaine, senior, Kapaa
Player of the Year: Jassem Cumlat, senior, Kauai
Coach of the Year: Ipo Yoshioka, Kauai