KALAHEO — Jimmy Torio of Anahola had not been to a basketball game for years — until Tuesday night.
“My granddaughter said her team claims she’s the best player,” Torio said. “I had to come see for myself.”
Torio’s granddaughter, Lele Gonzalez, plays for the Dream Team and was an animal on defense while being held to just three points in the Dream Team’s 19-17 edge over a scrappy Kaulupono squad in the finals of the Extreme Termite basketball games at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.
“Watch us,” said Eric Rita, a coach on the Kaulupono bench. “We rebounded. We took a win over the Ao‘uka Rebels, and tonight, we’re going 70 mph. We’re ready.”
Both teams waged a physical defensive slugfest demonstrated by the 4-2 edge scrapped out by the Dream Team following the opening frame. The tight match continued with the Dream being able to hold onto an 8-6 bulge at the break.
With 9:30 showing in the final stanza, Kaulupono’s Liana Hasegawa intercepted a Dream inbound and bucketed the ball for a 13-12 edge, its first lead of the night.
The Dream was hit by a substitution infraction with 5:27 remaining to send Kaulupono’s Katelyn Constantino to the line to give Kaulupono a 15-14 edge.
Cheering from both sides crescendoed in the waning ticks as the Dream’s Olivia Malafu capped the win on a bucket with less than 10 ticks showing on the match.
Malafu finished the title match on a game-high 12 points, including her two final buckets for the team that ended the season undefeated. She got help from Taeani Largusa who needed four points, and Gonzalez finished with three points, all coming in the final stanza.
Constantino topped the Kaulupono scoring on nine points, finishing three-of-four from the charity stripe. She got help from Bethany Pearl Remigio who ended with three makes and Hasegawa was limited to two points along with guard Kiaura Ortiz-Rita.
Earlier in the night, the Rebels’ Skylyn Fagarang suffered a painful injury and appeared to be out for the night. The injury turned scoring responsibilities to Priscilla Matthews who led the Rebels to a 16-11 win over the Kauai Lynx.
Matthews finished with eight points followed by Fagarang contributing five points, including returning to the match on defense after being checked out by fire fighters from the Kalaheo fire station. Cairee Quinones ended with a pair and a digit from Mikylah Labanon accounted for the win.
The Kauai Lynx was limited to three field goals throughout the night — one from Pua‘ala Akul-Ramos who finished with three points. Denise Alfonso added a bucket in the third period along with Jazlyn Phillips, and a charity pair from Taira Samiano-Oliveira accounted for the leaders.
The Extreme Termite league finishes Thursday with two games on tap starting at 6 p.m. followed by the boys’ title game between the Kauai Thunder and Papalina Gray tipping off at 7 p.m. at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.