KALAHEO — Kaulupono Division 1 girls basketball came back from a 6-1 opening quarter deficit to clinch the county’ Girls Division 1, or students in grades 4, 5, and 6, title with a 16-13 win over the Kauai Lynx Thursday night before a packed Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.
Facing a 6-3 deficit at the break, Kaulupono’s Hailey Mata fired off a basket to pull within to a digit, 5-6 in the fourth period. The Kauai Lynx, seeded No. 2 in the title playoffs, answered with a Kadee Parubrub bucket to stay ahead, 8-5.
“This was going to be a good match,” said Jason Caldeira, the county’s coordinator for the age group basketball program. “They’ve played twice before and each time, the game went to the final with Kaulupono taking the match by not more than four points. Their last meeting, the game went into overtime with Kaulupono coming up by just one point.”
Kaulupono’s Chaleiah Lancaster-Fabro netted a bucket in the fifth period to pull the Kalaheo-based team to within a digit, 7-8. Mata capped an inbound play for Kaulupono’s first lead of the night, 9-8 before Liana Hasegawa dropped two nets to preserve the Kaulupono lead.
Hasegawa topped the Kaulupono scoring with six points followed by Mata with four points, Katelyn Constantino with three points and Lancaster-Fabro with a pair.
“I played last year,” Hasegawa said. “That really helped, and I could just shoot.”
Parubrub topped the Kauai Lynx, who also received the Sportsmanship trophy, with four points followed by Joleina Cumlat with three points, and Jazmine Balauro-Constantino, Janessa Ramirez, and Ciaralyn Tolentino each bucketing pairs.
During the battle for third place, the Rebels’ Cece Baliaris bucketed six points to lead the red shirts to a 15-9 edge over Westside for the consolation prize. Kawai Medeiros, Cairee Quinones, and Zylah Blackstad helped the win with pairs.
Westside, earning the participation award, saw Tavina Moniz take the lead on four points followed by Skylnn Ripley with three and Lilly Kaohelaulii finishing with a pair.
“These games are the County of Kauai 2017 Winter Basketball Division 1 championship games,” Caldeira said. “This year, we went away from ‘instructional league’ to having a ‘competitive league’ where we will crown a champion during a playoff scenario at the end of the Boys and Girls season.”
The Division 1, or students in grades 4, 5, and 6, started in January with a skills clinic similar to the Pop Warner football Jamboree. The Division 2, or students in the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades is just getting started with a skills clinic being held two weeks ago.
Between the two leagues, almost 300 youngsters are playing with numerous coaches giving their time and participation to coach the teams. Division 1 featured five girls teams and 13 boys teams. Division 2 has seven girls teams and 12 boys teams.
The Division 1 boys championships will take place Wednesday at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center starting at 6 p.m. when Na Koa goes up against the Lihue Warriors A. The consolation match will see Papalina A going up against Kauai Thunder at 7 p.m.