BIIF girls basketball: Balanced Waiakea bounces Honokaa

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Kryssie Okinaka and the youngsters carried Waiakea in a crucial showdown against Honokaa, not only winning but showcasing a bright future with promising talent.

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Kryssie Okinaka and the youngsters carried Waiakea in a crucial showdown against Honokaa, not only winning but showcasing a bright future with promising talent.

Okinaka, a senior guard, scored 12 points to lead a balanced attack as Waiakea defeated the Dragons 39-30 in a BIIF Division I game on Tuesday night at the Warriors Gym.

It was a pivotal game because it gives the Warriors the tiebreaker edge for the four-team BIIF playoffs. Of course, the goal is to avoid the No. 4 seed, which almost guarantees a date with Konawaena, the two-time defending HHSAA champion and winners of the last eight BIIF titles.

Okinaka sank 6 of 8 free throws, a solid percentage for the one-handed shooter. The last Waiakea player to shoot free throws with one hand was Kira DeMorales, a 2008 graduate.

Keeli-Jade Smith added 10 points, Claire Kaneshiro eight, and Kelsie Imai had seven points for the Warriors (2-0), who shot 34 percent (10 of 29) from the field and made 19 of 31 free throws.

Kawena Kaohimaunu scored 10 points, and Aulani Cordero had seven points for the Dragons (1-1), who converted 39 percent (13 of 33) from the floor and sank just 3 of 13 free throws.

As such with Division I title contenders, defense and turnovers were big factors.

Both teams played a tenacious press man.

Honokaa had 32 turnovers while Waiakea had just 20 giveaways. The Warriors held an 11-5 scoring edge off free gifts.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Dragons had four straight turnovers, right after Apreal Ansagay scored on a putback to cut Waiakea’s lead to 31-28 with 3:05 remaining.

Much later, Okinaka scored on a layup off a turnover for a 33-28 lead with 58 seconds left. Then Smith hit a pair of free throws, followed by another Honokaa giveaway, and two Okinaka free throws for a 37-28 cushion with 26.9 seconds to go.

Smith and Imai are just freshmen while Kaneshiro is a sophomore. Imai is the sister of former Waiakea standouts Kirsty and Kamie and Keaau gunner Kirk Imai. Kirsty was known for her ball-handling and Kamie for her athleticism.

“She’s a mix of her two sisters,” Waiakea coach Brandon Kauhi said. “Her ball-handling is getting better, and her athleticism is through the roof. She’s very coachable and a joy to coach.”

It’s sort of a reunion when Waiakea and Honokaa play. Another Warrior freshman is Bethany Honma, Honokaa coach Daphne Honma’s niece. Also Smith and Imai played club ball with coach Honma’s team.

But if there was a BIIF most improved player of the year award, Kaneshiro would be a front-runner. Last season, she was the primary point guard but switches to shooting guard when Imai handles the ball.

“Claire worked all summer. She was one of the girls who was committed to coming out to our open gym,” Kauhi said. “All she needed was confidence. We move Kelsie to the point so we can have Claire as a shooter. She’s our best shooter. Now, she’s attacks the basket, hits pull-ups, and she’s our best free throw shooter, so it’s important for us that she gets to the line.”

Kaneshiro made 4 of 7 from the line, and she and her teammates constantly worked the ball inside. Waiakea buried zero 3-pointers, but didn’t need any long balls because its defense forced so many turnovers for extra scoring opportunities.

“We committed too many fouls in the first half. We executed when we needed to as far as our offense,” Kauhi said. “We made our free throws down the stretch. That helped us get the win.”

And it was Okinaka, Waiakea’s one-handed free throw shooter, who led the way with the best percentage.

In the junior varsity, it was Waiakea 39, Honokaa 20.

Honokaa 12 8 6 4 — 30

Waiakea 10 9 7 13 — 39

Kohala 46, Keaau 41

Mikayla Kekoa scored 14 points and Brittany Shimono added 11 as the Cowgirls (1-2) came back in the fourth quarter on the road for their first win.

Kaumaka Sibayton led the Cougars (1-2) with 11.

Kohala’s JV won 33-13.

Kohala 9 11 12 14 – 46

Keaau 14 6 14 7 – 41

Kamehameha 54, Pahoa 26

Taylor-James Sullivan scored 15 points as the Warriors (3-1) surged in the second half to coast at the Daggers’ gym.

Saydee Aganus added eight for Kamehameha, which broke open a 10-point game at halftime by outscoring Pahoa 26-0 inthe third quarter.

Raynah Berinobis and Alyssa Padilla led the Daggers (2-2) with 10 apiece.

Kamehameha 10 12 26 6–54

Pahoa 7 5 0 14–26

Hilo 71, Kealakehe 24

Freshman Jamilla Collins-Ebanez led four Vikings in double figures with 13 points in a comfortable home victory.

Chenoa Rogers chipped in with 11 and Mandy Kawaha and Mindy Kawaha had 10 apiece for Hilo (2-0).

Pamela Kalavi led the Waveriders (0-4) with 11 points.

In JV, Hilo won 45-19.

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Kealakehe 4 4 10 6 –24

Hilo 18 26 13 14 –71