KEAAU – Keaau borrowed Waiakea’s blueprint to show it could close out a big game on the basketball court against the master experts at late-game execution.
Keaau won the majority of the quarters, had excellent ball-handing and contested shots to upset the Warriors 47-44 in a BIIF Division I thriller on Thursday night at the Cougars Gym.
Patrick Mears scored 15 points, swishing four 3-pointers, Rico Handy had 14 points, and Kamalu Akana worked the paint for 11 points to lead the Cougars (4-1).
William Soares scored 14 points while Rekky Prudencio added 13 points for the Warriors (2-2), the two-time defending BIIF champion.
In the first quarter, Waiakea ran down the court, established good position and hit close-rangeß jump shots or scored transition layups. While in half court, the Warriors kept reversing the ball, and when the Cougars didn’t pay attention Prudencio drilled a 3-pointer for a 10-3 lead.
The Cougars countered against the Warrior’s zone with 3-point shot attempts. Mears swished a pair, and Keaau had a boost from freshman guard Gunny Ramirez, who had a layup and putback. Mears sank three 3-pointers in the first half for nine points.
Right before the close of the first period, Soares outraced Keaau’s defense for a transition layup for a 16-10 lead.
Handy got his dribble-penetration game going to start the second quarter, scoring one of his three layups.
Despite a height disadvantage, Keaau battled tough in the paint, thanks to the play of stocky forward Akana, who scored six points in the first half while Handy had seven points.
Later in the second period, Waiakea freshman forward Elijah Blankenship was a bright spot on three consecutive plays, scoring in the post and dishing off an assist, which pushed the lead to 24-19.
Blankenship had four points while Soares soared for eight points while Prudencio led the way with 10 points, drilling Waiakea’s lone triple in the first half.
In the first half, the Warriors nailed 1 of five from 3-point range while the Cougars dropped three of 13 from long range, all by Mears. For the game, Waiakea was 2 of 13 from long distance while Keaau went 6 of 19.
But right before halftime, Handy slashed his way for another layup, and Akana scored on an inbound play and was fouled. Akana drained the free throw and cut Waiakea’s lead to 29-27 at the break.
In the low-scoring third quarter, the Cougars jumped on a 9-0 run, highlighted by Gabe Bergen’s 3-pointer. That triple was off a turnover, and Handy sank another layup off another giveaway.
Keaau played tenacious defense and stoned Waiakea’s transition game. The Cougars outscored the visitors 10-6 in the third period.
Right before the buzzer, Soares scored on a putback and was fouled. He missed the free throw attempt but cut Keaau’s lead to 37-35 heading into the final eight minutes.
Handy opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, and Keaau took advantage of the Warriors’ 14 turnovers to outscore them 12-5 off giveaways. The Cougars had one fewer turnover than their foe, another part of Waiakea’s late-game blueprint.
Waiakea 16 13 6 9 — 44
Keaau 10 17 10 10 — 47
Hilo 68, Konawaena 57: The Vikings used a balanced three-pronged scoring attack to hand the Wildcats their second home loss this week.
Kekaukahi Alameda and Liko Medeiros each went for 18 points and Jojo Balagot added 16 for the Vikings, who rebounded from a loss at Honokaa two nights earlier to improve to 3-1 in the ultra-competitive Division I race.
The Wildcats, one of the presumptive favorites, fell to 2-2 – they lost to Kamehameha on Tuesday – despite Hau’oli Akau’s game-high 20 points. Seau Amor added 14.
Kohala 49, St. Joseph 29: Jeffrey Francisco 12 points in Kapaau as the Cowboys (2-1) spoiled the Cardinals opener in a game that could hold significance in the Division II race.
Ruku Suda paced St. Joe with 10 points.
Kohala led 20-9 at halftime and increased its advantage to 39-18 after three quarters.
Hawaii Prep 51, Parker 25: In the renewal of a Waimea crosstown rivalry, KJ Walker led a balanced scoring effort with 11 points as Ka Makani overcame an early charge from the short-handed Bulls.
Point guard Conner Brown helped stake host Parker (0-3) to 15-11 lead before he had to exit with an injury, and HPA (1-1) ran away from there, holding the Bulls to just six points in the second and third quarters to go ahead 43-17 entering the fourth.
Jonah Hurney, Michael Hughes and Matija Vitorovic scored nine points apiece for HPA.
Honokaa 69, Laupahoehoe 18: The Dragons went on the road and ran their record to 2-1, behind Kamuela Spenver-Herring (14 points) and Sheltyn Carvalho (10). Laupahoehoe fell to 0-3.