KAPAA — The one-point victory posted by the Kapaa High junior varsity squad over the visiting Kauai High team set the tone for the remainder of the night Saturday during Kauai Interscholastic Federation boys basketball games at Bernice Hundley Gym here.
Playing before a crowd that filled the gym, the Warrior JV held off a strong challenge by the Kauai JV to post a 36-35 edge at the final buzzer behind a 12-point contribution from guard Michael Questin and Poki Tafea of the Warriors’ trio of low posts, including Loni Tafea and Solomone Malafu adding two points each.
The torrid Warrior JV pressure limited the Kauai JV effort to just six points from Ridge Serraon, who blossomed with a pair of long balls in the fourth quarter, and another six points from Tyrus Duran, who netted another distance ball in the final stanza.
The nail-biter set the tone for the varsity match, where Kapaa roared out of the gates to a 15-7 showing at the end of the first quarter, the Warriors getting production from Kurtis Fujito-Pascua, who dumped a pair from outside the three-point arc, and Alaka‘i Gonsalves launching another long ball. Moses Ho added a pair of buckets in the quarter where the Red Raiders were kept empty until the Warriors reached a 7-0 bulge.
The Warriors led the entire game except for a point in the third quarter when the Raiders surged ahead, temporarily, at 31-30. Kapaa led the rest of the way en route to a 51-43 victory.
“We’re happy with the defensive effort from the boys,” said Kapaa coach Kamahalo Kauhane following the intensive matchup that kept fans cheering until the final buzzer. “We knew Kauai High School was quick and had speed. We had to adjust our lineup so we could match up better. We’re still struggling with our shots, though — especially at the free throw line.”
The Warriors kept up the pressure to increase the margin to 27-17 at the half, to the pleasure of an appreciative home crowd.
“Credit to Kapaa High School, who out-hustled and outplayed us,” said Kauai coach Ipo Yoshioka. “The Warriors did a great job tonight.”
The intermission settled the Red Raiders, somewhat, and Kauai High came back to outgun Kapaa, 14-9 in the third stanza, behind six points from Jim Ehia and four from Ricky Malu Ralston, to the delight of Raider fans who wondered if the Kauai boys could tackle the 10-point deficit.
With 3:01 showing in the third frame, Ehia launched a deep two-pointer to give Kauai its only lead of the night, 31-30. The lead was relished for less than a minute before Kapaa answered with Justin Faidley nailing the tail end of a charity pair to knot the contest, 31-31.
“This is just our first win,” Kauhane said. “But it’s going to be an exciting season — Kauai and Waimea each have one-loss records, and the Tuesday game is going to be huge when Waimea visits Kauai. We’re happy with how our boys handled themselves out there — it was a great team effort. Everyone did their job.”
Gonsalves led the Warriors with 10 points, including a pair of long balls, before fouling out in the fourth quarter. He got help from Ho, who bucketed nine points. Fujito-Pascua ended with eight points, and Hero Raza added seven.
Ehia, who celebrated his birthday following the physically demanding contest, topped the Red Raider effort with a game-high 16 points, followed by Ralston netting eight of his 10 points in the second half, and Luke Hunadi adding nine points.
The contest between Island School hosting Waimea High was canceled due to slippery floor conditions.
Kauai High hosts Waimea Tuesday, with the JV matchup tipping off at 5:30 p.m. followed by the varsity matchup. Kapaa will play Island School in a single varsity game tipping off at 7 p.m.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.