LIHUE — Though the Red Raiders didn’t come away with the results they had hoped for, the team put its best foot forward to represent the Garden Isle against the best in DII.
“I think the last two game was just a matter of who didn’t make the mistakes,” said Kauai High School varsity boys basketball head coach Ipo Yoshioka on Tuesday.
“We made the mistakes, and they capitalized on the mistakes that we made. Not just the players, but the coaches and coach Ipo as well,” he said. “We played well, but not well enough to win. I think there’s little things that we got to work on, and hopefully, we’ll get another shot next year and hopefully do better.”
Kauai High’s varsity boys went 0-2 at the Snapple Boys Basketball Championships — Division II state tournament last week on Oahu.
Though Kauai High had back-to-back losses this year, Yoshioka believes the program is not far off from getting a W at states.
“I think as far as we are going into state tournaments, I think we’re getting closer. I’m excited, you know, for the future,” he said. “When you look at it, you got an eight-team tournament. You got eight of the best teams in the state. They’re not going to be teams that are mediocre. They’re the best. They won. We got to be our best when we go into these tournaments. That’s one of the things we’re going to work on.”
In the tournament’s second day, Kauai High lost a 69-68 overtime thriller against Farrington of the Oahu Interscholastic Federation at Saint Francis School on Thursday.
“It was a fun game to coach. It was a fun game to watch,” Yoshioka said. “Farrington, they’re about the same size as we are. They just made one more shot than we did.”
The Red Raiders went into halftime with a 31-26 lead. In the second half, though, things turned against Kauai as Farrington came from behind to force OT.
The Governors made some free throws down the stretch during overtime to seal the win. Down four points, Red Raiders junior guard Gunnar Burkman made a 3-pointer as time expired for the 69-68 result.
“No excuses, but I think the kids played well. Just the other team played a little better,” Yoshioka said.
Senior guard Bryce Johnson-Cormack and junior guard Christian Manera each had 18 points in that consolation game. Sophomore guard CJ Cromartie followed with 14 points.
In the opening round Wednesday, Kauai lost to No. 4 seed Honokaa of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation, 71-55, at Kalani High.
Kauai only trailed by six points at halftime, but the Dragons would then outscored the Red Raiders in the second half, 32-22. Kauai managed just six points in the third quarter.
“We had some miscommunication in the second half,” Yoshioka said. “We started off pretty well in the second half. We scored the first couple of baskets. But their bigs — their main guy, the 6’3” guy — took over and was a little too strong for us. And then No. 3, their main guard, he didn’t miss any shots going into that. Their two main guys played very well and we just didn’t step up and play defense the way we normally do.”
Johnson-Cormack led Kauai High with 19 points in that opening round matchup. Junior forward Shaun Paglinawan had 11. Burkman had nine points, all from outside the three-point line.
Kauai High’s varsity boys ended its season Thursday with an 8-2 overall record, going an undefeated 8-0 in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation season to win the school’s first boys basketball championship since 2015.
“I think the season went very well. Not only because we won, but the other two teams — Waimea and Kapaa — played very competitive,” Yoshioka said. “It was anybody’s shot to win the KIF, and it’s going to be like that next year again. … I think this year, our team responded really well. And I’m proud of them. Very proud of them.”
Information from Hawaii High School Athletic Association.