The Kauai Red Raiders have an opportunity to change the direction of some unfavorable recent history as the 2017 HHSAA Boys Basketball Championships begin for them today at Kalani High School.
It’s been quite a while since any Kauai boys basketball team has had a modicum of success at the state level. Some really good players have been coming through the KIF, but there hasn’t been a team that has gone on to postseason success, unlike a lot of our other Division II high school sports teams.
The last time a KIF team won a game in the main bracket of the D2 tournament was back in 2010. The Kapaa Warriors won their quarterfinal game against University and went on to take third place by beating Academy of the Pacific after falling to Pahoa in the semifinals. That was a fun and dynamic team with plenty of personality and swagger to it. But since that season, it’s been six straight first-round exits for KIF champions.
Last season, Kapaa had the misfortune of matching up with an underseeded University team in the quarterfinals. The Warriors received the No. 3 seed and the Junior Bows were unseeded, but University pounced early and went on to notch the 51-35 win. It wasn’t at all a fluke as the Junior Bows continued to win their next to games in similar fashion to easily earn the D2 state title.
It seems like there could be a similar story line this season as Kauai High takes on No. 4 seed Honokaa. The Dragons are a big team with strong belief in themselves. That was proven last week when they earned the BIIF D2 championship by overcoming a nine-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Hawaii Prep.
They have four players listed at 6-feet 2-inches or taller, but the one to watch will be Kamuela Spencer-Herring, who stands 6-foot-3. Spencer-Herring went for 17 points and six rebounds in that win over HPA. The Raiders aren’t a very big team, so combating that size is going to be a challenge. Just because Honokaa doesn’t have a number next to its name doesn’t mean it will be an easy out. In fact, that’s been a recent recipe for success in this tournament.
Kauai High has certainly earned facing the No. 4 seed this year, not having experienced defeat through eight KIF games. Bryce Johnson-Cormack and Christian Manera will likely be leaned upon to continue leading this team in scoring. Today’s matchup will be a tough one, but every tide has to turn at some point, right? We’ll see if the seven-year drought finally dries up today.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.