LIHUE — The 2018 Snapple Girls Basketball Championships – Division II state tournament kicks off today.
The tournament’s opening round matchups begin at 5 p.m. at Kaimuki and Kalani high schools in Honolulu.
But Kauai’s Red Raiders will have to wait one more day to begin their postseason run.
This year’s Kauai Interscholastic Federation winner Kauai High School (8-0 KIF) is seeded No. 4 at the tournament and received an opening round bye.
“Having to play four games in a row can be a physical challenge for anybody. So, having one less game is nice,” said Kauai High School varsity girls basketball head coach James Dingus on Tuesday. “And then also, all the girls should be proud. People in the state recognized that they had a nice regular season and played well.
“Now, it’s not going to guarantee anything when we get over there and we play. You still have to play well. When you’re in a tournament, you got to compete and play well to move on.”
The Red Raiders await the winner of the opening round game between Seabury Hall of the Maui Interscholastic League and Honokaa of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation. That game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at Kaimuki High School.
Maui’s Spartans and Big Island’s Dragons are set to play 5 p.m. today at Kaimuki High.
“We did play Seabury (in preseason). They came over to Kauai to play all three schools here. But in a basketball season, that was a long time ago,” Dingus said. “Teams have changed. To get to compete in a state tournament, you got to be playing pretty good basketball. In basketball terms, that was a long time ago. I’m sure they’ve evolved.
“Haven’t played Honokaa. I know they’re a program with some history. They’ve won state championships fairly recently. So, just got a fun opportunity to go and compete.”
Kauai High clinched its second consecutive KIF varsity girls basketball championship when Waimea defeated Kapaa, 50-48, on Jan. 16 to put the Warriors out of contention for the season’s second round.
The Red Raiders went on to beat the Warriors, 52-55, on the team’s senior night Jan. 19 to finish the regular season undefeated.
At last year’s Division II tournament, Kauai High School placed sixth. The Red Raiders, then unseeded, went 2-2 and lost in the fifth-place game against Moanalua of the Oahu Interscholastic Association, 37-35, at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center.
“I think there’s just less surprises,” Dingus said. “I think they should be more comfortable with the process, getting to travel, going to the different gyms and just seeing everything. Last year, we did get to play in the Blaisdell Center. That’s a big carrot out there for high school players. That’s the best one to play in the state. Hopefully, that experience will carry over.”
He added: “This team is a really good group of girls. They’re good people turning into strong, young ladies. It was enjoyable coaching them, and we’re going to try to represent the island and make the community here proud.”
Information from Hawaii High School Athletic Association.