It’s in their DNA: Waiakea grads off together to Peninsula

  • RICK OGATA photo Keeli-Jade Smith helped Waiakea dethrone Konawaena’s BIIF girls dynasty in 2019, and she's taking her winning ways to Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Wash. “(Keeli-Jade’s) got power and guard skills. She’s versatile,” club coach Daphne Honma said.

  • RICK OGATA photo Tayvia Cabatbat helped Waiakea dethrone Konawaena’s BIIF girls dynasty in 2019, and she's taking her winning ways to Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Wash. “(Tayvia) can find her way to the rim and also pass the ball off,” club coach Daphne Honma said.

Keeli-Jade Smith and Tayvia Cabatbat will be together for at least another two years at Peninsula College in Port Angeles, Wash.

The recent Waiakea graduates signed with the Pirates, who play in the Northwest Athletic Conference, home to Edmonds, where recent graduate Nique Pacheco signed.

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Smith and Cabatbat played on Daphne Honma’s DNA club team, which competed in a tournament last summer in Oregon.

Pirates coach Alison Crumb spotted Smith and made the 5-foot-8 forward an offer she couldn’t refuse.

“Coach Crumb just asked me what my plans were and offered me better than what other colleges were,” Smith said. “I accepted within about four days. Coach Crumb likes that I was versatile and I could body big girls and shoot.

“It means a lot of me and made the recruiting process so easy, and I didn’t have to do much.”

The Pirates have been consistent winners under Crumb. They finished second in the conference but the NWAC postseason was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Honma called Smith a versatile player on offense and defense, able to score from the post or perimeter and guard different size players.

“She’s played with DNA off and on for four years,” Honma said. “She’s got power and guard skills. She’s versatile. She can post or score from outside. She can shoot the 3 as well. She know how to get her baskets. She can dominate and that makes her a threat all the time.”

Cabatbat, a 5-5 guard, came off the bench for the Warriors but Honma believes she will be a gem for Peninsula as a well-rounded force.

“She can find her way to the rim and also pass the ball off,” Honma said. “She has good passing skills and is a tough defender. She has quick hands and good instincts and can pick a pocket.”

Smith will major in fire science and wants to become a paramedic or firefighter. She said Peninsula became attractive when she saw doe on the campus, which is two hours north of Seattle.

“There’s baby deer that chill on the campus,” Smith said.

She’s also glad to have a friendly face going with her.

“Tayv is my home girl, and we’re good friends,” Smith said. “Knowing that someone from home and someone that I trust is going to be there just makes me more comfortable.”

Unlike most juco hoopsters, Smith doesn’t have a destination four-year school in mind. But that’s OK to Smith, who just wants to blossom in college.

“My goal is to grow as a person and enhance my athletic and educational ability,” she said.

Smith and the rest of the Warriors made their own BIIF legacy in 2019 with an upset of Konawaena twice. Waiakea beat the Wildcats to stop Konawaena’s decade-long winning streak at 124 games and again for the BIIF championship, ending their 10-year league reign.

Now, it’s time for new adventures for the Warrior duo.

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They’ll leave for their new home on Sept. 1 pending the pandemic situation.

Former Waiakea teammates reconnecting at Peninsula

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