LIHUE — The Kauai High School boys basketball team pulled ahead in the final minute of regulation, Tuesday night during the Kauai Interscholastic Federation boys basketball games contested before an enthusiastic audience of fans at the Kauai High School gym.
With the go-ahead within reach in the single-digit realm, Waimea High School sent the Red Raiders to the foul line to roof-raising cheering from both teams’ fans. From there, Kauai High School built the gap to a final 66-54 win over Waimea at the final buzzer.
“Jim Ehia dropping the foul shots made the difference,” said Ipo Yoshioka, the Kauai High School coach. “That was the turning point along with the defensive efforts when Keane Tibon and Ricky Malu Ralston fouled out — how the rest of the team stepped up to fill the gaps. We’re proud of how the boys played.”
Ehia, leading the team scoring on 18 points, finished with a seven-for-eight performance in the second half from the charity stripe. Overall, Ehia finished seven-for-10 after coming up empty on his two appearances at the strip in the second frame.
“We’re proud of the Waimea effort,” said Waimea coach Brandon Moises. “Kauai was just a little smarter here and there. They also made their shots.”
Waimea chased through the early moments of the game before a lead exchanging series saw Kauai take a three-point bulge at the end of the opening quarter that increased to six points at the break.
The Menehune charged back onto the arena in the third quarter, and behind eight marks from Wade Pimsaguan and three points from Mason Broyles, including the feed from Pimsaguan in heavy traffic, that trimmed the deficit to just a pair, 42-40, after outgunning the Raiders 11-7 in the defensive slugfest.
“We’re proud of the way the boys overcame (the previous two games in the second round),” Moises said. “The best part is they never gave up.”
Kauai went on to clinch the win, 66-57 behind Ehia’s 18 points, and 10 points from Tibon before he was buzzed out. The balanced effort saw Luke Hunadi end with nine points, including a second quarter-long ball, and Ralston adding eight points before leaving the game on fouls.
Broyles and Pimsaguan topped the Waimea scoring, Broyles finishing with 20 points, a point back of Pimsaguan’s game-high 21 marks. Aiden Ringor threaded heavy defensive pressure to add six points.
Earlier in the night, the Kauai Junior Varsity came from a 42-28 deficit in the third quarter to take a 51-49 edge when Noah Louis iced the win on a bucket with 10 seconds showing in the contest.
The Kauai JV erased the 14-point gap at the end of three quarters with its go-ahead on a Hans Burkman bucket with 1:02 showing for the 49-47 reading. Waimea’s Angelito Constantino answered at the 27-second mark to knot the contest before Louis’ bucket 17 ticks later.
Mareyon Cromartie topped the Kauai JV scoring on 17 points, including 11 marks in the fourth frame, and Hans Leo Carlos added 10 points in the win.
Raindell Fernandes topped the Menehune JV scoring with 13 points, Hekili Dizol added nine points, and Constantino finished with seven points.
Waimea next faces Kapaa High School, Friday, when they attempt to redeem its earlier loss. The JV contest tips off at 5:30 p.m. at the Bernice Hundley Gym, followed by the varsity match.
Kauai High School will travel to the Wilcox Gymnasium, where they tip-off against the Voyagers in a single game starting at 7 p.m.
The Red Raiders are in first place in the KIF.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.