BIIF boys basketball preview: Ka’u wants in on action

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The Ka’u boys basketball program isn’t exactly synonymous with success of late, but don’t tell that to the current group of Trojans, many of whom have tasted winning in other sports.

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The Ka’u boys basketball program isn’t exactly synonymous with success of late, but don’t tell that to the current group of Trojans, many of whom have tasted winning in other sports.

Joven Padrigo went to the HHSAA volleyball tournament during his freshman and sophomore seasons, while Janslae Badua, Richard Souza, Buddy Flores and John Kalahiki, among others, recently helped their school win a second BIIF eight-man football championship in three seasons.

Perhaps naturally, expectations remain high for this upperclassmen-laden group on the hardwood.

“They’re just a bunch of country boys who work hard,” coach Daryl Shibuya said.

Senior power forward Titan Ault could feel the vibe, even after a lopsided preseason loss to Honokaa on Dec. 16. In fact, getting run up and down the court by the Dragons was just what the doctor ordered, he said.

“We know by the end of this year, the only competition we’re going to have is them and HPA,” Ault said. “We’re running for the top three. I feel we can go far this year.”

Their games start for real Friday when the Trojans host Waiakea.

One of Ka’u’s strengths is its bevy of guards, such as Padrigo, Badua and Pete Dacalio, but the husky Ault is a key to Ka’u’s inside game. At 5-foot, 11 inches, part of Ault’s repertoire is that of a finesse shooter, but he also doesn’t mind throwing his weight around.

“You have five fouls for a reason,” he said. “Why not use them?”

The highlight of the Trojans’ preseason was a one-point victory against defending BIIF Division II champion St. Joseph at the Keaau-Waiakea tournament.

“That game we worked more together,” said Dacalio, a senior. “We were less conditioned, but I think the conditioning is really going to help us as the season goes on.

“I think our effort is there, we just have to communicate and talk more.”

Badua, a junior, said academic probation took its toll when four players missed the Keaau/Waiakea tournament, but at least three of his teammates took their coaches words to heart, because only one Trojan missed Hilo’s Holiday Prep Classic.

Ka’u has no shortage of point guards, Badua included, but seniors Souza, Flores and Kalahiki offer something different. Souza brings a post presence while Flores and Kalahiki can play inside or out.

“We have to get guys open,” Badua said. “We have to work the inside to open up the outside.”

That didn’t happen against Honokaa, which was playing its 17th game of the preseason, while the Trojans were only playing their sixth. Honokaa figures to be the measuring stick in BIIF Division II this season, and even if Ka’u can’t catch up, it’d like to come close.

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“It was a good experience playing them, because they’ve been playing longer than us,” Padrigo, a senior, said. “We’ve grown up together and we’ve been practicing together and we’re going to try our best. We should at least try to come in second place and get to states.”

He’s been there before, albeit in a different sport.

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