Kaiser’s magical season isn’t quite over.
The Lady Cougars fell 51-28 in OIA quarterfinal play at Mililani on Wednesday night, but they can qualify for the state tournament with a win over Leilehua.
Kaiser, a very young team with just two seniors, was cold from the field from start to finish. Mililani switched from man to 2-3 zone defense after one quarter and the move worked out for the Trojans. Kaiser shot 2-for-11 from the field against the zone and 3-for-13 in the third quarter. For the game, the visitors shot below 20 percent from the field (8-for-41), including 3-for-21 from the arc. They were also 9-for-22 from the free-throw line.
Sophomore Taeya Blakeney battled the 6-foot-1 Cheyenne Ardona and finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. No other Cougar scored more than six points, but they got open looks. They got their share of rebounds. The turnover count was similar: 15 for Kaiser and 14 for Mililani.
“We’re pretty inexperienced, but we’ve been fighting all season. We’ve had wonderful games,” Kaiser coach Bri Lagat-Ramos said. “Tonight was one of those games we didn’t show up. It’s a rebuilding year.”
Kaiser was 7-3 in the OIA East (11-10 overall) and had ousted Nanakuli 50-41 on Tuesday night before traveling to face the West’s first-place team. Young teams have a tendency to misfire in the playoffs, but Lagat-Ramos believes all experience, win or lose, will help. Regardless of how far the Cougars go from this point, the coming months will be the test of commitment.
“This will be our first offseason together. They’re finally committed to traveling in the summer,” Lagat-Ramos said. “We’re going to Arizona or California.”