LIHUE — The Red Raider boys went unbeaten en route to winning the Kauai Interscholastic Federation championship — the school’s first since the 2014-15 season.
“It feels great,” said senior guard Bryce Johnson-Cormack during Tuesday’s practice. “It means a lot because last year, we came up a little bit short. It just feels good to go out when you’re at the top.”
Head coach Ipo Yoshioka said his players had the drive, and that all he had to do was give them guidance.
“These kids, from when they were freshmen, they knew what they wanted. They wanted it to happen. They just needed some direction,” Yoshioka said. “I’m just the guy that helped them get there. They did the rest. These kids are great kids.
“I got to say in all the years I’ve been coaching, this is one of the greatest good bunch of kids that I’ve coached,” he continued. “All of them are good. They don’t complain. They don’t whine. They just work hard every day, from back in September, August, back at the end of last season. They just kept working, and I’m so proud of them.”
Now, Kauai High School’s varsity boys basketball team is preparing for the big show.
“Practices have been more intense. The coaches are pushing us harder,” Johnson-Cormack said. “These are our last games. So, we have to come out with our hardest for these final games.”
Kauai High (8-0 KIF) is unseeded at the Snapple Boys Basketball Championships — Division II state tournament.
“I’m fine with it. I’m not going to sit there and dwell with the seeding. We got to go over there and play. We got to prove ourselves. That’s what’s got to happen,” Yoshioka said. “We got to prove it to ourselves — prove to ourselves that we can be there, and that we should be there. As far as the rankings and stuff, the state knows what they’re doing. Let them do their job. We got to do ours.”
In the opening round, the Red Raiders will face No. 4 seed Honokaa of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. today at Kalani High School in Honolulu.
“They’re going to be a tough team to beat. It’s going to be hard work. We’re going to have to play one of our best games,” Yoshioka said. “They’re going to be quick. They’re going to be a scrappy bunch of kids, like the Big Island always has. We just got to go do what we do and have some fun with it.”
Johnson-Cormack, too, said he wasn’t worried about getting seeded when the brackets were released last weekend.
“It’s whatever,” he said. “We’re not going to complain about it. We just got to go out there and play our game. You know what I mean? Whoever we play, just play our hardest.”
Senior guard Joseph Cumlat believes what the Red Raiders have as an advantage is how quick they can run on the floor.
“Just speed, being aggressive on defense and converting on the fast breaks. That will be key,” he said.
A team from the KIF has yet to win a boys basketball state championship.
“We’d love to be the first,” Yoshioka said. “I would love to see that happen for them.”
The players share the same sentiments.
“That would be a big accomplishment for us. As hard as we work in practice, it would be good for it to pay off,” Johnson-Cormack said.
Cumlat added: “That would be unbelievable. Everybody is just doubting us. They think that we cannot do it. We just got to prove them wrong. … It just makes us want to work harder to get to the top.”