LIHUE — With everything on the line, the Red Raiders romped Kapaa to win the league title.
Kauai High School’s varsity girls basketball defeated Kapaa, 53-31, in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship game Monday evening at home.
It is the school’s first KIF girls basketball championship since the 2012-13 season.
“It’s a great way to end my senior year,” said Red Raiders senior guard Sheryl Tomas. “I was not looking forward to end the season just yet. To finally win the game and to see the team work together and get our groove back, the outcome is just great.”
Kauai (6-3 KIF, 2-2 2nd round, 1-0 playoff) started with an 11-5 lead following the first quarter. The Red Raiders kept its lead throughout, outscoring the Warriors 30-15 in the second half.
“We put all the pieces together and played like a team,” said Kauai head coach James Dingus. “I was waiting for us to see our best game. That was our best one so far.”
Facing a 23-16 deficit at halftime, Kapaa (6-3 KIF, 4-0 2nd round, 0-1 playoff) scored only in the single digits in the third and fourth quarters.
“Baskets weren’t falling for us tonight,” said Kapaa head coach William Aki. “We got off, again, to a slow start and couldn’t recover. But give it to my girls. They hustled and fought hard to get to this game.”
Before time expired, there was a scramble for a loose ball. Red Raiders junior center Taegan Keep recovered the ball and passed ahead to freshman guard Marissa Layosa for a fast-break layup.
As the buzzer sounded, teammates mobbed Layosa to the cheers of the home crowd.
“We’ve put in a lot of work. To finally just finish it off and take the KIF title, honestly, there’s no words to describe it,” Keep said. “Just goosebumps. We’re going to states. I’ve been varsity for three years, and we finally got the win.”
Prior to Kauai High winning the championship Monday, Kapaa won the league crown the past three seasons.
“They played hard all season. For the past few years, they’ve played hard just to stay a champion,” Aki said. “Like I always say, ‘Until someone knocks us off, we’re still the champs.’ Tonight, Kauai High played a good game. Baskets were falling for them. That helped them out a lot.”
Keep recorded a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds, as well as four blocks and two assists.
Tomas had six points, three assists, three rebounds and a steal. Layosa had eight points, 10 rebounds and two steals. Senior guard Monique Tomacder had seven points, 10 rebounds, a steal and an assist for Kauai.
“I’m really excited to be back in the gym for a few more practices,” Tomas said. “I wasn’t ready to see the season end. Now knowing that we get to have more practices and see the team more, it’s just awesome. And being able to travel more, hopefully we can make our school proud.”
Warriors senior guard Paea Tafea had eight points, nine rebounds, a block and an assist for Kapaa. Senior forward Jazmin Kaleioi had nine points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Jaliyah Casem had four points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
“No one expects to lose,” Tafea said. “We just didn’t show up today. I’m just proud of the team. I’m proud of how hard they worked.”
“It was a good experience. I don’t blame them. This is for them — this is drive for them to get better next year,” she added. “I’ve had a good ride. Freshman year to now, I have three KIF championships. I’m good.”
Kauai High will go on to play in the Snapple Girls Basketball Championships – Division II state tournament, which begins Feb. 1 on Oahu.
“Well No. 1, I’m glad we’re going. No. 2, I’m looking forward to the challenge,” Dingus said. “We’ve played against some of those teams in the past year or two in our preseason games we got in Honolulu. So, we got some experience. I think that was the beginning of us getting confidence and understanding in how we can play. Now, we’ll go over and see if we’ve gotten better, say hi to some old friends and compete as best we can.”