Manera fuels Kauai High surge

LIHUE — For the second time in as many outings, Red Raider Christian Manera grabbed the spotlight in the second half to power Kauai High School to a 52-39 win over Kapaa High School Wednesday night at the Kauai High School gym.

“Kapaa is a good team,” said Kauai coach Ipo Yoshioka. “They have good players and are well-coached. We need to play the way we need to play and not let a good team like Kapaa pull us out of our game.”

Manera entered the 22-22 fray at the break and fired five points in the third frame before exploding for eight big points in the final quarter to finish with a game-high 13 points, including three long balls from outside the three-point arc.

“They’re quick,” said Erik Burkman, father of Kauai player Gunner Burkman. “They’ll come at you — a couple of buckets here, a three-pointer here and there, and constant new legs — all happening quickly. Next thing you know, you’re looking at a difference of 10 points, or more. Where did that come from?”

Gunner Burkman added five points to the Raider effort, including one of six treys.

Kapaa, playing with the loss of Tristen Hawelu who was waging his own battle against the flu virus, opened strong, peeling off a 6-0 lead before Kauai got on the boards. The Warriors, rolling off four marks from Carson Schmick, a three-ball from Michael Encinas, and pairs from Lester Manique, Justin Faidly and Saxsen Shiira, held a 13-9 lead after the opening quarter.

Kauai answered in the second quarter with Joseph Cumlat firing off seven of Kauai’s 13 points. But a Kapaa bucket pulled Kapaa to a 22-22 stalemate at the half.

“Kapaa kept pushing, pushing,” Yoshioka said. “This is a team effort — whether we’re in a game or not — the boys spark each other, and we just need to get in the game.”

From there, Kauai answered with a 31-17 second half to surge to its win.

“It’s recurring,” said Kapaa coach Kamahalo Kauhane. “Our defense broke down. We worked on trying to continue the first half. Normally, Kauai comes hot in the fourth quarter, but we couldn’t execute. Having a free throw percentage of about 40 percent and our 3-point shooting at 15 percent didn’t help. I guess that’s basketball.”

The absence of guard Hawelu catalyzed strong performances from Schmick and Shiira who controlled the inside game in the first half.

“We’ve got the elements,” Kauhane said. “This is just another learning experience. We’ve got to put everything together.”

Earlier in the night, Kapaa junior varsity held off a strong comeback effort in the final quarter to take a 46-42 edge over the Kauai JV. Kesomi Fonua led the Junior Warriors with 14 points, including a three-ball, and Kurtis Fujito-Pascua added a dozen points. Kauai’s Ricky Ralston matched Fonua’s effort with 14 points.

Kapaa next hosts Waimea Saturday night at the Bernice Hundley Gym when the junior varsity tips off at 5:30 p.m. followed by the varsity match.

“We have to keep this spirit alive,” Kauhane said. “We still feel confidence. Defense can win championships, and we have work to do. We have two very important games still ahead of us.”

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