LIHUE — Waimea High School’s Kierstin Gummerus capitalized on back-to-back turnovers in the final two minutes of play Monday night during the Kauai Interscholastic Federation girls basketball games at the Kauai High School gym.
The pair of late-game buckets amidst the loud cheering catalyzed a Menehune scoring flurry that ended with the buzzer sounding a 57-44 win for Waimea.
“It’s nice to have someone to light the fire,” said Waimea coach Natalie Mata. “Look at that whole bunch. They could be off, but any one of them could be the spark.”
To the point of the turnovers, the Kauai girls had fought back from a 35-17 halftime deficit cut Waimea’s lead to 39-34 at the end of the third frame.
Kauai guard Tia Jaquias threaded traffic with 4:31 showing on the game clock to trim the deficit to 41-38, and a charity pair from Bailey Perreira pulled the Raiders to within a point with 4:04 remaining.
The tail end of a free throw pair rebuilt the Menehune lead, only to have Kauai’s Marissa Layosa pull the Raiders close again before Gummerus swept in to churn the turnovers with 2:02 showing.
“We had our chances,” Kauai athletic director Keli‘i Morgado said, starting the cleanup process following the heartbreaking loss.
Following a slow start, the Raiders held an 11-9 lead in the opening quarter before a Gummerus long ball — her only score in the period — with 12 seconds remaining in the quarter pulled Waimea up, 12-11.
The trey ignited a Menehune fire that saw the lead, fueled by Gummerus’ 12 points and Hazel Serapio’s seven points, grow to 35-17 at the break.
“Waimea played hard and made the plays in the first half,” said Kauai coach James Dingus. “But I’m proud of the way our girls fought back. This was a very competitive game on both sides, and our coaches are proud of the way they played to good plays and battled back. Our girls are playing better — competing hard, having fun, and learning about life through basketball.”
Amalya Sales led the third quarter comeback with nine points of the Raiders 17 points while holding the Menehune to just a pair of buckets from Braelyn Cayaban.
“I asked myself, ‘When are they going to wake up?’ I have 100 percent faith in these girls,” Mata said. “This is one game where both sides played hard. Both sides left 100 percent on the floor tonight.”
Gummerus topped the night’s scoring, finishing with 27 points including a pair of long balls and a perfect 5-5 showing at the free throw line.
She got help from Cayaban, who ended the night with 11 points including a trey. Hazel Serapio added nine points to the victory.
Sales topped the Kauai scoring on 11 points. Layosa and Tiana Manera each added nine marks.
Earlier in the evening, Alena Bernardo bucketed four points in the final quarter to pull the Kauai junior varsity girls to a 40-28 win over the JV Menehune. Bernardo topped the JV Raider scoring with 10 points. Krystin Emeroso and Zoe Santa Maria each contribued six points.
Deysha Kenney topped the JV Menehune scoring on eight points. Tisha Burton and Kathleen Alvarez each added six points.
Kauai High School next faces Kapaa High School, currently leading the KIF Round 2 after defeating Waimea last week, at the Bernice Hundley Gym on Wednesday. The JV game tips off at 5:30 p.m. with the varsity match to follow.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.