Warriors finish 2nd round unbeaten

WAIMEA — Kapaa High School’s varsity girls basketball team defeated Waimea, 72-63, Tuesday evening at Waimea High.

“The plan for tonight was to try to get the bench (players) to play a little more — get the varsity-level game into their heads,” said Kapaa head coach William Aki. “We kind of lost it in the beginning and they panicked a little bit, but they came back and did a better job in the second half.”

With the win, Kapaa (6-2 KIF, 4-0 2nd round) finished the season’s second round without a loss ahead of the Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship game on Monday.

“As far as expectations, the girls have been doing rather well against Kauai High, especially the last two games against them,” Aki said. “We played a lot better defense, and held (Kauai junior center Taegan Keep) down really well the last game. Hopefully, we can do that again and make the rest of them have to work.”

For three quarters, the Warriors held around a double-digit lead.

“The plan was for the first five to go up and put up as much points on the board as we can, and then let the other people go up and show them what they got,” said Warriors sophomore guard Jaliyah Casem. “They did really good. They did their best. They put points on the board and played defense.”

Waimea (1-6 KIF, 0-3 2nd round) led 18-12 after the first quarter. When Kapaa played its substitutes, Waimea was able to make up some ground.

“We had some very good spurts. Probably the best of the year, which I’m very happy for,” said Waimea head coach Natalie Mata. “It’s (almost) the end of the season for us. Basically, we’re just kind of going out there and letting everybody play. We have no chance of contending anymore, so might as well make the best of the last two games. We don’t want to lose, but also I want to get everybody in the game.”

Tuesday was Waimea’s senior night. Two Menehune seniors, forwards Shania Kahepuu and Jasmin Santella, were acknowledged after the game.

“I’m just proud of my girls,” Kahepuu said, who finished the game with one point and four rebounds. “We finished the season right. We could have done way better, but I’m still proud of them for what they did tonight.”

Mata, who is in her first year as varsity head coach, said it was an honor to coach the two seniors.

“It was my first year getting to coach them. When I first came into it, to be honest, I thought they were going to give me a challenge — attitude-wise and things like that,” Mata said. “But they bought into us. They stuck it out.”

Casem had 13 points, five assists and two rebounds for Kapaa. Senior guard Paea Tafea had 16 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and a block. Senior forward Jazmin Kaleiohi had 12 points and six rebounds.

Menehune junior guard Monique Joy Lorenzo had a game-high 25 points with five rebounds, three steals and an assist for Waimea. Freshman guard Tiana Lei Joy Ramos had 13 points and five rebounds. Junior guard Kiarra Palacio had 12 points, five assists, four rebounds and four steals.

Waimea will play at Kauai High (4-3 KIF, 1-2 2nd round) on Friday to conclude the KIF regular season. The junior varsity game between Kauai and Kapaa will begin 5:30 p.m. and the varsity will follow.

Monday’s championship game between Kauai and Kapaa is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Kauai High School.

“I hope we get the W,” Casem said. “We just want to work hard the last few days in practice because we never know what can happen. We want to do our best, pray that we can win and just give everything we got.”

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