KAPAA — On the team’s last home game of the regular season, the Warriors earned their berth in the league championship game.
Kapaa High School’s varsity girls basketball team defeated Kauai High, 37-23, Friday evening on the team’s senior night.
“I always know how senior night feels, but tonight is pretty special,” said Warriors senior guard Paea Tafea. “We’re playing Kauai High. Before, we came up short to them. This was an important game. I’m just happy we came out with a win. I’m just proud of my team.”
The Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship game between Kapaa and first round-winner Kauai is set for Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at Kauai High School.
“The last few years, it’s been like that for us. Luckily, it happened in our gym,” said Kapaa head coach William Aki about clinching the second round on senior night. “Hopefully, we’ll come out in the next game, and we can play just as hard.”
After holding a four-point lead following the third period, Kapaa (5-2 KIF, 3-0 2nd round) started to distance itself in the last period.
A layup by Tafea late in the fourth quarter gave the Warriors a double-digit lead.
“We just made sure we stayed tight, kept the score really close and do our damage in the fourth quarter,” Aki said. “Then toward the end of the fourth quarter, just slow the ball down once we got a decent lead.”
Kauai (4-3 KIF, 1-2 2nd round) only scored in single digits each quarter.
“I think they defended our post. I talk about playing inside-out. They made it really tough for (junior center Taegan Keep) to get clean looks,” said Kauai head coach James Dingus. “So, that’s was part of it. I think for whatever reason, their defense or our mindset, I don’t think our perimeter players were as aggressive as they could have been.”
While the team has the championship game to look forward to, Dingus doesn’t want his players to look too far ahead.
“We’ve got senior night when we play Waimea next Friday. So, that normally gets people excited,” he said. “Waimea’s a scrappy team. The last game against them was pretty tight. This is the time of year when teams are either improving and peaking, or not. We want to make sure our team is getting better and improving.”
Tafea recorded a double-double with 16 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and a block for Kapaa. Sophomore guard Jaliyah Casem had 12 points, three rebounds and an assist. Senior forward Jazmin Kaleiohi had six points, six rebound and an assist.
Keep had nine points, 11 rebounds and two blocks for Kauai. Senior guard Monique Tomacder had six points, five rebounds and two assists. Freshman guard Marissa Layosa had four points, five rebounds and a steal.
Four Warriors seniors were honored prior to tip-off: Tafea, Kaleiohi, forward Mele Masaniai and guard Tamare Daligcon.
“All glory to God. I’m nothing without him,” Tafea said of her varsity career at Kapaa. “And then, yeah, keep playing hard and stay strong.”
Kauai won the junior varsity game, 41-28.
Tiana Manera scored a game-high 18 points for the JV Red Raiders, and Angeline Roslin scored eight for the JV Warriors.
Kapaa will next play at Waimea High School (1-5 KIF, 0-2 2nd round) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Kauai will host Waimea on Friday to conclude the KIF regular season. The JV game between Kauai and Kapaa will begin 5:30 p.m., and the varsity will follow.