WAIMEA — With just six ticks remaining on the game clock, Kapaa guard Jaliyah Casem banked the first shot and teased the twine with her second foul shot Friday night at the Clem Gomes Gym in Waimea.
The charity pair proved to be the icing for a 59-56 win, Kapaa’s first in the Kauai Interscholastic Federation girls basketball season, over Waimea when the inbound to Kiarra Palacio for a trey came up empty at the buzzer.
“Playing well means we win,” said Waimea coach Natalie Mata. “We played OK. We had them playing our game in the first half. But our girls came out timid and not mentally focused in the third quarter. Credit to Kapaa who slowed down the game, and pulled us out of our game. They were patient, and we weren’t.”
Kapaa came back from an 11-point deficit at the half, and didn’t get the lead until the fourth quarter when a Mele Tafea bucket put Kapaa up for the first time.
“We worked on this for two weeks,” said Kapaa coach William Aki. “We worked to avoid turnovers and to try not to have to dig outselves out of the hole.”
The results of those practice appeared to elude the Warriors as Waimea capitalized on Kapaa turnovers and forced an early time out following a 7-0 Menehune lead. Working behind Kiarra Palacio and Kaye Serapio each dropping 11 points in the first half, Waimea rattled off a 32-21 lead at the break.
In addition to the 11-point deficit, Kapaa also had two of its starters in foul trouble — a big hole to try and dig out of.
“We tried to keep them from shooting the threes,” Aki said. “But there was a flurry of them — three from Waimea. And, we put in three — all in the third quarter.”
But Waimea was limited to just 11 points — three treys and a field goal— in the third quarter while Kapaa answered with 21 points, including three treys and six field goals. Overall, Kapaa outgunned Waimea, 35-24 in the second half.
“We gave up 21 points in the third quarter,” Mata said. “Turnovers and our offense cost us the game. You can’t score if you don’t have the ball.”
Kapaa center Mele Tafea topped all scorers in the win, netting 25 points balanced across four quarters. Casem finished with 18 points, 14 dropping in the second half, including her sole charity pair in the final six seconds. Angelica Cudiamat finished with six points, Kobi Miura added five, and a trio from Junelle Kayla Tangalin in the fourth quarter rounded out the win.
Kaye Serapio topped the Menehune scoring on 18 points followed by Palacio adding 16 points. Guard Monique Joy Lorenzo finished with 15 points, including 12 marks in the second half to lead the Waimea effort.
Earlier in the evening, Brae Cayaban finished with 17 points and Cori Burton added 14 points to lead the Junior Varsity Menehune to a 40-25 win over the JV Warriors who got 13 points from Lilia Unutoa and six points from Angeline Roslin.
Kapaa next hosts Kauai High School Tuesday at the Bernice Hundley Gym when the junior varsity match tips off starting at 5:30 p.m.