Waimea High School’s varsity girls basketball team placed third at the 2019 Snapple Girls Basketball Championships–Division II state tournament.
In the third-place game Saturday afternoon, Waimea defeated Hanalani of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, 72-60, at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
“Honestly, we’re a little upset. We’re competitive. We wanted to go all the way,” said Waimea head coach Natalie Mata in a phone interview Saturday. “It’s not our time. So placing third, it means a lot. These girls came a long way. Had plenty of ups and downs. But basically, it just means we’re the third best team in the state of Hawaii. That’s a huge accomplishment. These girls should be proud.”
Waimea trailed at halftime, 37-31. The Menehune responded in the third quarter and outscored the Royals in the period, 21-6.
“In the first half, we were a little slower than we normally are,” Mata said. “It’s our first time playing at Stan Sheriff. This is a big place. It can be a little intimidating to play in. I think there were nerves. We were playing at a slower place. But in the second half, after we talked to them, they came back and played their pace — back to the high-speed run and gun.”
Menehune sophomore guard Kierstin Gummerus scored a game-high 30 points with six steals and four rebounds. Sophomore guard Kaye Serapio posted a double-double with 28 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and three assists.
“They were consistent all season long. They’re our scorers,” Mata said of the two guards. “But it takes a team. Everybody has a role. It’s not just them two doing the work. It’s not just the two that are scoring the points. Like, who gets the rebounds and who gets the steals. So, it’s a team effort.”
Royals senior guard Keila Tsutsui led Hanalani with 25 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
In the semifinals Friday night, Waimea lost to No. 1 seed Hawaii Baptist Academy of the ILH, 56-47, at Damien Memorial School in Honolulu.
Mata said poor free throw shooting undid them in the semifinals. Waimea was 5 of 18 at the free throw line, and Hawaii Baptist was 18-21.
“That was the difference in the game. It wasn’t that one outplayed the other. It wasn’t any of that. It was literally free throws,” Mata said.
Gummerus was Waimea’s leading scorer on Friday with a game-high 21 points along with four steals and two rebounds. Serapio posted a double-double with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five steals on Friday.
Hawaii Baptist’s Kyley Nakagawa led the team with 15 points, four rebounds and one assist.
Waimea’s result this year is the highest a Kauai Interscholastic Federation team placed at the girls state tournament in recent history.
The highest a KIF team placed at the Division II tournament was when Kauai High School placed second in 2012. In Waimea’s last appearance at states in 2007, the Menehune was 1-2 and didn’t place.
Waimea ends its season with a 13-4 overall record, going 10-3 en route to winning the school’s first KIF girls basketball championship since 2007 and 3-1 at the state tournament.
Mata said this year’s team, which only has two seniors, set high expectations for the coming years.
“As long as we’re here coaching, we’re going to expect to get here every single year that we’re here now. That’s how competitive us coaches are,” she said. “I got two seniors that’s leaving us, but the rest of them that’s staying, I told them, ‘Mark my words. They’re going to be state champions one year.’ This year wasn’t our time, but they set the bar. So, great season. They should be very proud. They got to represent the island, but now I expect to be here all the time.”
Saturaday’s Division II results
Game 16 (fifth place): University (ILH) 39, Hawaii Prep (BIIF) 27
Game 17 (third place): Waimea (KIF) 72, Hanalani (ILH) 60
Game 18 (championship): No. 1 Hawaii Baptist (ILH) 43, No. 2 Seabury Hall (MIL) 39
Info from Hawaii High School Athletic Association.
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.