KEAAU — Next to the bogus missile warning, the biggest news off the BIIF basketball court, at least on the Orchid Isle, was the league expanding the boys postseason from four to six teams.
Bruce Ferreira, Hilo’s pragmatic coach and part-time comedian, had a great punch line and flushed a slam-dunk.
“Because of the parity, it gives a team that’s in sixth place a chance to win a BIIF title,” he said as a drum roll was beating. “That’s awesome because that might be us.”
Major bummer for the Vikings and the rest of the six Division I teams. The league decided to expand the BIIF playoffs from four to six teams for only boys Division II.
If the Vikings want to make their first BIIF postseason appearance since 2016, they’ll have to earn it, and it got a little less stressful with a 41-40 win to over on Saturday night at the Cougars Gym
Guyson Ogata scored 14 points, and Liko Medeiros added 11 points for the Vikings (4-3), who converted 32 percent (12 of 38) from the floor, including 5 of 15 from beyond the 3-point arc. They sank 11 of 19 free throws.
Patrick Mears scored 16 points while Rico Handy added 10 points each for the Cougars (5-2), who shot 31 percent (14 of 45) from the field, including 4 of 16 from long range. They made a Shaq-like 8 of 16 free throws.
Hilo hit 5 of 13 from beyond the arc to lead 25-21 at halftime, but Keaau could have been up by a dozen points if not for a half-dozen missed shots right under the basket.
The Cougars rushed their close-range shots and didn’t shoot with any patience or structure, often hoisting up clunkers. Still, they shot a decent 36 percent on field goals in the first half against Hilo’s man defense.
Keaau used a mix of man and zone, but the Vikings had much better aim and converted at 45 percent from the field, including 5 of 13 from 3-point range. Hilo’s bench provided nine points, all on 3s, two by Mason Galima and one by Tyler Kuanoni.
Mears carried the hot hand for the Cougars with 12 points, dropping in a pair of 3-balls and jump-stopping to the rim for three layups.
It was a fast-paced first half with only two free throws. Hilo made 1 of 2. Keaau didn’t get to the line.
In the third quarter, Keaau made 5 of 10 from the free throw line to take a 30-29 lead into the final eight minutes. Hilo shot 1 of 10 on field goals in the period.
Keaau couldn’t stop Hilo’s dribble-penetration in the fourth period, and the Viks often got fouled and buried 9 of 16 from the free throw line. Medeiros swished two free throws for a 37-36 lead with 2:56 left, a slim margin the visitors never lost.
With 9.3 seconds to play, Keaau’s ball-hander lost his dribble and the ball rolled out of bounds for a harmful turnover.
D-II boys change
Last Tuesday, the league’s athletic directors held a meeting and decided to change the boys BIIF Division II postseason, making it a six-team field, instead of the usual four-team format.
It’s because of the number of teams with eight in Division II this year, according to the league.
There are six teams in Division I and features the most competitive balance since statewide classification started in 2007. However, the BIIF Division I playoffs will remain at four teams.
The girls BIIF playoffs for both D-I and D-II will remain at four teams.
Also, a team that wins the outright BIIF regular-season title will still earn the league’s first berth to the HHSAA tournament.
The D-II six-team postseason change is temporary, dependent on the number of basketball teams.
Hilo 13 12 4 12 — 41
Keaau 14 7 9 10 — 40