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BIIF girls basketball: Hilo’s plays party crasher in beating Kamehameha

  • R.W. SMITH/Tribune-Herald
    Hilo’s Mele Vaka makes a layup Wednesday during the Vikings’ 48-34 win at Kamehameha.

KEAAU — It was supposed to be a feel-good night for Kamehameha’s five seniors: Saydee Aganus, Jordyn Mantz, McKenzie Kalawaia, Taylor Sullivan, and sixth-man Hera Salmeron.

They’re the heart of the team and big parts of consecutive HHSAA Division II runner-up finishes and the last two BIIF titles, but Hilo’s sisters Mandi and Mindi Kawaha stole the spotlight.

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The two dynamic point guards put on a ball-handling clinic and led the Vikings to a 48-34 win over the Warriors in a BIIF game on Wednesday night at Koai’a Gym.

Tatiana Rideout scored 12 points, and Mele Vaka had 11 points and six rebounds for the Division I Vikings (9-1), who buried 40 percent (19 of 47) from the floor, including 7 of 18 from long distance. They sank 3 of 8 free throws.

Mandi Kawaha had seven points and seven assists while Mindi accounted for eight points and five assists. They often dribbled away from trouble and set up others.

They worked well as ball-sharing partners, taking turns running the offense.

The victory served as a momentum boost for Hilo, which next faces Waiakea in the BIIF semifinals on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at Hilo Civic.

Earlier, the Viks slipped past the Warriors 41-39 and edged them 40-39 in the BIIF semifinals last season.

Aganus scored 11 points, Mantz and Sullivan seven each, Kalawaia six, and Salmeron had two points to lead the Division II Warriors (6-3), who shot 32 percent from the field (14 of 44), including 2 of 13 from 3-point territory. They made 4 of 8 free throws.

The loss likely knocks Kamehameha out of the running for the BIIF regular season title, the league’s first berth to the HHSAA tournament and a first-round bye.

The Warriors host Konawaena on Saturday to close the regular season.

They’ll likely meet Kohala, a team they beat 45-37, in the BIIF semifinals on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at Hilo Civic.

In the first quarter, Hilo’s dribble-dish offense, powered by Mandi and Mindy Kawaha, came out on fire. They had a combined five assists, and the Vikings shot 7 of 10 on field goals.

The sisters came off high screens and found open shooters, sometimes each other. Mindy Kawaha drained a pair of long balls. Rideout also had two 3-pointers for the game.

After the Viks scored, they applied tough ball pressure with traps and stayed in front of Kamehameha’s shooters, who made just 2 of 12 in the first period.

In the second quarter, Kalawaia nailed three straight turnaround jump shots to cut Hilo’s lead to 20-13.

Aganus scored only two baskets in the first half, but the second one was a beauty and displayed her athleticism. On a fast-break, she hit the brakes, then softly buried a fadeaway in the lane.

Mantz swished two free throws to trim Hilo’s lead to 25-17 at halftime. The Warriors shot 5 of 9 from the field in the second period while the Viks cooled off at 3 of 12.

In the third quarter, it was the same old story as the first period: Hilo was hot (5 of 11 field goals, contested shots and Kamehameha was cold (2 of 13).

In the fourth quarter, Mandi Kawaha, a 5-foot-2 senior, and Aganus, who’s six inches taller, had two great one-on-one moments against each other.

Kawaha crossed Aganus and fired a bounce pass between defenders to Vaka, who scored for a 43-27 lead.

Then with 31 seconds left, Aganus did a shot pump-fake and dribbled past Kawaha for a layup and Kamehameha’s last basket.

The loudest cheers were saved for Salmeron, who sank a long jump shot at the start of the fourth quarter, earning her feel-good moment.

Hilo 17 8 12 11 — 48

Kamehameha 5 12 6 11 — 34

Honokaa 47, Hawaii Prep 28: Kayla Branco scored 15 points in Waimea as the Dragons (6-3) won what was likely a Division II semifinal preview.

Coco Shafer had another solid effort for Ka Makani (3-6) with 11 points.

Honokaa led 26-14 at the break and pulled away in the third, outscoring HPA 11-3.

Boys

Kohala 49, Pahoa 33: Jeffrey Francisco scored 11 points in Kapaau as the Cowboys ended a three-game losing streak.

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Kohala (4-4) led 36-21 entering the fourth quarter and held the Daggers (2-6) to two points in the final eight minutes, solidifying its chances of hosting a Division II first-round playoff game.

Jaymin Santiago-Burns led Pahoa with 13.