WAIMEA — Kauai High School’s varsity girls basketball team defeated Waimea High School, 53-34, Friday night at the Clem Gomes Gym in Waimea.
Kauai High (7-0 KIF, 3-0 2nd round) is now one win away from clinching a second consecutive Kauai Interscholastic Federation girls basketball championship, securing a berth at the state tournament and finishing the regular season undefeated.
The Red Raider girls will play in the KIF regular season finale next and host Kapaa High on Friday.
“Well, we’re going to try to just keep being ourselves, not really think of the implications and focus on just playing that game,” said Kauai head coach James Dingus. “It’s my job to get the girls … to not think of all the other stuff. Just play this game and play this play the way we talk about, and try to play our game not add anything crazy to it.”
Kauai High iced Friday’s win at the free throw line. In the fourth quarter, the Red Raiders were 11-12 from the stripe.
The Menehune fouled to conserve time on the game clock down the stretch, but were outscored in the final period, 21-9.
“It’s a calculated risk when you foul because you do get in the bonus and the other team’s going to shoot free throws,” Dingus said. “If they miss, then you give yourself a chance to stretch the game out and come back. If they make it, you kind of live and die like that.”
After being down at halftime, 20-9, Waimea (2-5 KIF, 0-3 2nd round) went on a run in the third quarter to cut the deficit down to single digits.
“Kauai High is a good team. It’s tricky to defend them,” said Waimea head coach Natalie Mata. “They have, basically, an all-around team. When we make a run, they come right back up and they start scoring. … It’s hard to get a lead. When we don’t have a lead from the beginning, it’s hard to catch up.”
Friday was Waimea High’s senior night. Five Menehune seniors were recognized following the game — guard Monique Lorenzo, guard Kiarra Palacio, forward Zayna Perreira, guard Apryl Grande and guard/forward Starlynn Ripley.
“I’m sad that it’s my last home game, but I’m glad that we played it like how I thought we played. We played hard,” Palacio said. “The game wasn’t how we thought it would go.”
Mata said of her senior class: “These five are very special individuals. As basketball players, they grew a lot. But as people, I think we formed girls to young women now. That’s what they need in life. But these five are a little more special. Three out of five of them were with me since their freshman year. They were really the foundation of me trying to build something, and they stuck it out. I got to praise them.”
Waimea will play its last game of the season Tuesday at Kapaa High School (1-5 KIF, 1-1 2nd round). The junior varsity game will begin 5:30 p.m. and the varsity will follow.
“I hope we win, and just play exactly how we played tonight — with all heart and as hard as we could,” Palacio said.
Red Raiders sophomore guard Marissa Layosa totaled 14 points, two rebounds and an assist for Kauai.
Kauai senior guard Cici Tanicala and freshman forward Bailey Perreira each scored 10 points — Tanicala added two assists, and Perreira had four rebounds. Senior center Taegan Keep had six points, eight rebounds, four blocks and two assists.
Palacio ended with four points, five rebounds and a steal for Waimea. Ripley had seven points, three rebounds and a steal.
Freshman guard Kaye Serapio led in scoring for the Menehune with 10 points and had eight rebounds, two assists and a steal. Junior forward Dawn Serapio had six points, a rebound and a steal.
Kauai also won the JV contest, 40-34. Jessica Cezar was Kauai’s leading scorer with nine points. Waimea’s Brae Cayaban was scored a game-high 19 points.