WAIMEA — The Menehune girls just edged out a win to close out the season’s first round.
Waimea High School’s varsity girls basketball team defeated Kapaa High School, 64-63, Friday night at the Clem Gomes Gym in Waimea.
“It was a very good game, especially on Kapaa’s part. They played a very well-organized game,” said Waimea head coach Natalie Mata. “It was more of a lesson game for my girls. They’re young. I was just telling them not that long ago that they got to understand certain situations.
“I think a lot of my girls can play at the next level. At the next level, the coaches are not always there to bail you out. At the very end, I kind of taught them a lesson. I should have called a time out, but I didn’t on purpose. It was a good experience for them, to be in a close game like this.”
Waimea (5-1 KIF) led for most of the first half but then fell behind in the third quarter.
The Menehune then gained a 58-55 lead in the fourth quarter on a three-point shot by Kiersten Gummerus.
As time was winding down, both teams drew fouls in the bonus situation to get to the free-throw line. A pair of free throws by Kaye Serapio extended Waimea’s lead to 64-60.
With seconds left and Waimea holding a 64-62 lead, Kapaa’s Jaliyah Casem was fouled as time ran out and was awarded free throws.
Casem made her first attempt to cut the deficit to one point, but she missed the second attempt. Waimea got the win on the missed free throw.
Mata said she doesn’t want to take credit away from her team, but she does feel that they got away with a win.
“A win is a win, though. I can’t take that away from the girls,” Mata said. “It was sloppy, for sure. We had a lot of defensive mistakes. But like I said, it was good to end with a game like this so we can work on our mistakes, see what we can change, see what we got to brush up on. It was a good learning game, like I said.”
Kapaa (2-4 KIF) took a 42-41 lead about midway through the third quarter on a three-point shot by Casem. It was Kapaa’s first lead in the game since early in the first quarter.
“(I wanted) to try to control the ball,” said Kapaa head coach William Aki of when the team got the lead in the third period. “We made a few crucial errors in our passing and lost the ball. That’s going to happen with a young team that I have like this. They came back and did a better job in the fourth quarter, at least played better on the defensive end. The first half, we kind of slacked off on the defense. (We did) a little tweaking at halftime, and it got us right back in the game.”
Aki added missed attempts at the free throw line cost the team. Kapaa was 12-27 from the line, and Waimea was 20-29.
“The foul line bit us again, but at least we made a statement tonight — that we can come out, challenge them and have a good game and not give it for free,” he said. “Waimea came out playing really hard, and I give it to those girls. They come out every game and play hard. The foul line bit us tonight, but we played a whole lot better than we did all season against this team.”
Gummerus led Waimea with a double-double, posting a team-high 26 points with 11 rebounds and two assists. Serapio also had a double-double with 16 points, 18 rebounds and five assists. Hazel Serapio had 13 points, three rebounds and two assists.
Casem led Kapaa with a game-high 28 points. She also had 11 rebounds and five assists for a double- double. Kapaa’s Mele Tafea also posted a double-double with 18 points, 11 rebounds and block. Angelica Cudiamat had 11 points, three assists and two rebounds.
Waimea also won Friday’s junior varsity game, 37-13. Kathleen Alvarez and Deyshia Kenny each scored 11 points for Waimea’s JV team. Kapaa’s Jada Ines led the team with eight points.
The season’s second round starts Jan. 7 when Waimea hosts Kauai High School (2-4 KIF). The JV game will begin 5:30 p.m. and the varsity game will follow.
Kapaa next plays on Jan. 9 at Kauai High School.
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.