Keep records double-double en route to season opener victory for Kauai High

KAPAA — Junior center Taegan Keep scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds en route to the Red Raiders on-the-road victory to open their season.

Kauai High School’s varsity girls basketball team defeated Kapaa, 45-33, in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation regular season opener in Bernice Hundley Gym at Kapaa Tuesday evening.

“It’s really good to get the first win of the season,” Keep said. “I really think everyone did their part. Towards the end, the guards were making the outside shots, which helped pull up the lead. Kapaa, it was a good game.”

Kapaa clawed back from an early deficit in the fourth quarter, but Kauai (1-0 KIF) closed the game with an 11-2 run sparked by a 3-pointer by senior guard Sheryl Tomas.

“I’m pretty proud of the way our girls closed out the last three or four minutes,” said Kauai head coach James Dingus. “We made some smart plays, some good plays and played our style.”

Kapaa (0-1 KIF) trailed at halftime, 21-15. The Warriors’ offense then outscored the Red Raiders 12-7 in the third quarter. Senior guard Paea Tafea scored 10 of her 16 points in that period.

In the fourth quarter, before Kauai sealed the victory with the 11-2 run, Kapaa took a one-point lead off a fastbreak layup by sophomore guard Jaliyah Casem.

“Our game plan was to come back out and press a little bit, and chip away at that lead,” said Kapaa head coach William Aki. “We did, but then we ended up slowing ourselves down as well.”

Keep made her presence felt, especially in the first half, scoring 14 of her total 21 before halftime.

“First half, I really tried to get the numbers up quickly so we can get the lead. I know that I can use my strength to help my team,” she said.

Dingus added: “I kind of felt that, especially in the first quarter and the beginning of the second quarter. She is a force inside, especially here in the KIF. We wanted to try to get her the ball, and try for her to be really efficient inside to make those little layups and make some free throws. She was able to do that, and then closed the game with a couple of layups, too.”

Aki said his team played well during preseason games in Kona, so it was a bit of a surprise when the players didn’t have that same energy to start the regular season.

“We played the top teams on the Big Island, and some of the top teams in the state,” he said. “We played them very well up there. To come home to play flat like this, it (was disappointing). It could be jitters. It could be tiredness. But don’t take anything away from Kauai High. They played a hell of a game tonight.”

Tomas totaled eight points, five steals, two assists and two rebounds. Junior guard Monique Tomacder got six points, six rebounds and two assists for the Red Raiders.

Tafea recorded six rebounds, four steals and a block along with her 16 points for the Warriors. Casem totaled seven points, six assists and four steals.

Kapaa won the junior varsity game, 32-20. Kapaa’s Tiani Kauai and Kauai’s Tiana Manera each scored eight points.

Kapaa will next play on Friday at Waimea High School. The girls varsity game will begin 6:30 p.m.

Kauai will next host Waimea on Tuesday.

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