LIHUE — Waimea’s Starlynn Ripley fired off a game-high 13 points and Menehune guards combined for 19 points to claim a 40-36 win over Kauai High School on Tuesday night at the Kauai High School gym.
“Starlynn had a great game defensively,” said Natalie Mata, the Waimea head coach. “We played our style of basketball, tonight. We didn’t concentrate on what the other team could do. We focused on tough defense and what our girls could do.”
Waimea claimed the lead from the opening tipoff and despite the Red Raiders’ comeback effort in the second half when Kauai outgunned Waimea 11-10 in the third frame and 11-9 in the final quarter. The Menehune held on for the victory.
Kauai, facing a 21-14 halftime deficit, adjusted and came out strong. But Waimea capitalized on turnovers and missed Kauai shots, the opportunity being enhanced when Kauai guard Monique Tomacder went down in the third quarter.
“The girls played hard,” said Kauai coach James Dingus. “But they weren’t making their shots — even on the free throw line. I thought we had a chance in the third quarter when Monique hit the three-pointer. But that was just before she got hurt.”
Kauai High School finished the night 6-for-11 from the foul line in the first half and 7-for-14 in the second half.
Ripley was the strong person in the paint, hounding Kauai center Taegan Keep and limiting her to three points in the first half. Keep came back for seven marks in the second half to lead the Red Raider offense with 10 points.
Ripley finished with 13 points, including a seven-point showing in the final quarter to lead Waimea in scoring.
Guards played heavily in the game. Waimea’s trio of Kiarra Palacio, Monique Joy Lorenzo and Apryl Grande kept moving the ball away from Kauai traffic, Palacio sparking the Waimea scoring on 12 points including a pair of three-point bombs in the third quarter. Lorenzo finished the night with seven first-half points.
“Waimea made the plays, tonight,” Dingus said. “They came out quick and took us out of our game. They took care of things. We had our opportunities, but the girls couldn’t finish.”
Louisa Tanigawa and Shania Kahepu‘u each added four points toward the Waimea win.
Following Keep’s lead, Kauai got a dozen points from Marissa Manera, including seven points in the second half when she improved to a 3-for-6 showing at the free throw line, five points from Cici Tanicala, four marks from Sheryl Tomas and a pair from Sierra Fernandez.
“Some nights are like that,” said Keli‘i Morgado, the Kauai athletic director. “The girls couldn’t hit the mark, tonight. Now, every team’s got one win. It’s a three-way tie heading to Friday when we host Kapaa.”
During the junior varsity matchup, Kauai held off Kapaa 22-17 after the junior Warriors came back from a 13-6 deficit at the break and peeled off a 4-0 third stanza behind a Kobi-Taylor Miura bucket and a charity pair from Tiani Kaui.
But Kauai answered back in the final stanza, led by a three-ball from Tiana Manera who finished the game with 10 points in the JV Raiders’ win. Rebecca Zenger and Deannalyn Alfonso each added four points, with Destiny Melchor and Justine Lopez-Henry netting pairs.
Miura topped the Kapaa scoring followed by Kaui with six points and Koinoia Fifita adding four points.
Waimea, with the break on Friday, will not be sitting on its laurels.
“We leave Thursday for Hilo and the Holiday tournament,” Mata said. “The girls will be playing Friday and Saturday before heading to the Bernice Hundley Tuesday night against Kapaa. But they’re young so they should be able to handle this.”
Dingus said with the league tied, Friday night’s encounter is a big game.
“Every game is big,” Dingus said. “We need to be able to finish.”
The junior varsity match starts at 5:30 p.m. followed by the varsity game tipping off 20 minutes following the completion of the JV game.