BIIF girls basketball: Waiakea rides defense past Kamehameha

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Waiakea coach Brandon Kauhi called Kamehameha the wild card, pointing out that the Division II basketball heavyweight is capable of beating Division I opponents.

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Waiakea coach Brandon Kauhi called Kamehameha the wild card, pointing out that the Division II basketball heavyweight is capable of beating Division I opponents.

He was right, but it’s good for his Warriors that they won anyway.

Waiakea toppled Kamehameha 63-46 in a BIIF game on Friday night, picking up a valuable win and remaining atop the Division I standings.

The key for Waiakea, Hilo, and Honokaa is to avoid the No. 4 seed in the four-team BIIF Division I playoffs, which almost guarantees a matchup with Konawaena the two-time defending HHSAA champion and winners of the last eight BIIF crowns.

Like Konawaena, Kamehameha’s best offense is its defense: pressure the ball with traps, force a turnover and score an easy bucket.

Kamehameha coach Weston Willard’s best weapon is junior point guard Saydee Aganus, the BIIF track standout who won gold in the 100 meters and long jump in May. It’s never a problem for her to steal the ball, run ahead of the pack and soar for an easy layup.

But Waiakea gave Kamehameha a taste of its own medicine, relying on that game plan.

“We try to preach to the girls that defense creates offense,” Kauhi said. “If we do what we’re supposed to, like get deflections then we get offense in transition and high-percentage shots. In that third quarter, we created turnovers and got points in transition.”

Claire Kaneshiro scored 18 points, Kryssie Okinaka 12, and Madison Hwang 10 to lead the Division I Warriors (4-0), who hit 47 percent from the field and made 25 of 30 free throws, attacking the rim time and again.

Jordan Mantz scored 17 points, Dominique Pacheco came off the bench and added 12 points, and Aganus had 10 to lead the Division II Warriors (3-2), who shot 36 percent from the floor and sank 11 of 24 free throws.

For Kamehameha’s Camille Poe, a 5-foot-7 junior guard, it’s the first time she faced her dad Shannon Poe on an opposing sideline in a BIIF game. He’s an assistant at Waiakea, and she’s the last of the Kamehameha hoop Poe sisters: Chelsea (2012 graduate), Casey (2014), and Caitlin (2016).

Waiakea took a 27-23 lead into halftime when Kaneshiro drilled a long 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving her nine points in the first half.

Kauhi’s Warriors maintained their composure, handled the ball and withstood a tenacious man press and deadly traps to make the most of their possessions.

Kamehameha committed 33 turnovers, and Waiakea capitalized with a 17-6 scoring advantage off free gifts. Waiakea had 20 giveaways.

In the tide-turning third quarter, the host Warriors outscored the visitors 26-7, including 9-0 on points off turnovers. Kaneshiro had nine points, including a nice left-handed layup, and Okinaka seven in that decisive eight minutes.

Kaneshiro was also tasked with defending the athletic Aganus, who was held to just two layups and one floater.

“Kelsie Imai got in early foul trouble,” Kauhi said. “We asked Claire to face guard Saydee. Saydee is an awesome player.”

Kauhi could apply that same description to several of his players, starting with Kaneshiro and Okinaka. The pair and their teammates helped Waiakea ring in the New Year on a high note.

In the JV, it was Waiakea 49, Kamehameha 27.

Kamehameha 13 10 7 16 — 46

Waiakea 12 15 26 10 — 63

Honokaa 48, Ka’u 34

Kawena Kaohimaunu scored 13 points and Aulani Cordero added 10 as the Dragons (2-1) eased to a home victory.

Reisha Jara led the Trojans (1-2) with eight points.

In JV, Honokaa won 39-15.

Kohala 4 9 10 11 – 34

Honokaa 16 12 15 5 – 48

Hilo 75, Pahoa 9

Mandy Kawaha paced three Vikings in double figures with 18 points to pace a home victory.

Tatiana Rideout and Asia Castillo added 13 apiece for Hilo (3-0).

The Daggers (2-3) got three points each from Alyssa Padilla, Poerava Lucas-Waters and Joy Ushijima.

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Pahoa 3 1 3 2 – 9

Hilo 19 22 20 14–75