KALAHEO — The #Ballout and the Kauai Ballers opened the 18 and Over women’s basketball season on winning notes Sunday.
The wins sets up a crucial meeting this Sunday at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center when the two teams square off at 7 p.m.
“Opening night for the girls is like a reunion, seeing players again after watching them in basketball over the years,” said Karen Matsumoto of the Kauai Youth Basketball Association.
KYBA and the County of Kauai host the league that features four teams and will play through July 26 with playoffs taking place on Aug. 2.
Kori Sakamoto, recently graduating Pacific University in Oregon, and a former Waimea High School guard, leads Team 808 that includes a mixture of Waimea and Kauai alumni.
Jessilyn Aki, currently playing for a college on the Mainland and a former Kapaa High School guard, leads the Kauai Ballers.
Rachael Taira, currently a teacher and a former Kauai High School standout, leads the #Ballout, and Robyn Hoopii-Manuel, a former Waimea High School standout, leads the Meatballs which features not only former Menehune players, but select players who are still Waimea students.
The #Ballout lost little time asserting itself against Team 808, Natalie Mata taking the lead by dropping seven of the team’s 12 points in the opening quarter, including a three-ball, and sounding the buzzer on a 12-3 lead over Team 808.
The #Ballout built up a 12-point lead at the half, and after dropping just two points in the third period, saw the gap close to within three points as Team 808, led by former Kauai High School guard Kristle Henry closed the gap.
Henry, finishing with 16 points for Team 808, dropped 14 points in the second half.
Janessa Grady, another Kauai alumni, finished with 13 points, including three treys. Erin Connelly, a strong inside player who played for Waimea, added six points and a lot of strength on the inside with Kayla Perez, a Kamehameha Schools alum, and Sakamoto each adding pairs.
Casey Anacleto, the No. 2 guard for Kauai, topped the #Ballout scoring with 17 points, including launching four from outside the three-point arc.
Mata ended with 15 points, 13 dropping in the first half, including one from three-pointland. Mei-Ling Keopuhiwa, a former Kauai guard, added seven points and a pair from Cherisse Rapozo, another Kauai alum, adding a pair in the win.
The Kauai Ballers, similar to #Ballout, took off from the opening tipoff, sealing a 61-24 win over the Meatballs behind 21 points from player-coach Aki.
Ala McCabe, a former Kapaa player, added 12 points and Joy Claypoole, also a player with Island School, adding nine points.
Bristy Agu and Lauren Claypoole, Joy’s older sister who is currently playing college ball, each netted seven points with Kira Nakamura adding five points.
Cheyenne Duarte, a former Waimea guard, topped the Meatballs’ scoring with 12 points followed by Leona Hasegawa, a Waimea alum, adding five points.
Sunday, Team 808 opens against the Meatballs in the 6 p.m. tipoff followed by #Ballout squaring off against the Kauai Ballers.