Kealakehe and Ka‘u shared the same game plan — run the floor, take it to the hoop or fire a 3-pointer — but the Waveriders executed better at the Waiakea-Keaau basketball tournament on Saturday.
The Waveriders also played tougher defense to beat the Trojans 55-40 at the Warriors Gym, where shooting percentages, especially from 3-point territory, took a nosedive.
Kealakehe, which finished last in BIIF Division I with a 5-7 record a year ago, shot 30 percent from the field, including 2 of 25 from long distance.
Ka‘u, the No. 4 BIIF Division II team with a 4-10 record, converted just 22 percent on field goals, including 4 of 23 from 3-point range.
Despite the cold shooting, the Waveriders found points in the paint from forward Lewko Lai, who had a team-high 17 points. Freshman forward Howard Robert slashed to the rim for 13 points.
The ’Riders played without center Anthony “Head” Trevino, who was on Kauai playing in the Life Champion Senior Bowl game, and Bryton Lewi, who’s the main source of offense.
Second-year coach Benny Alcoran has a nice mix of young and old with freshmen Robert, Kainoa Jones, sophomore point guard Tito Cabico, and seniors Lai, Trevino, Lewi, and Quishaun Gallon, another athletic forward.
Gallon, Robert, and senior guard Travis Grace all streaked to the basketball for layups off the Trojans’ 18 turnovers. The Waveriders had 12 giveaways but often limited Ka‘u to one shot.
Andre Carvalho led the Trojans with 24 points, drilling four 3-pointers and going 10 of 15 from the free throw line. He had a knack for tagging fouls on the Waveriders, who had to switch from a man to a 2-3 zone defense.
Ka‘u coach Daryl Shibuya returns two starters in Carvalho, a junior forward, and senior guard Janslae Badua. Freshman guard Isaiah Pilanca-Emmsley shared quarterback duties with Zachary Kai, a senior guard, on the BIIF eight-man champion football team.
Badua and Nainoa Ke, a senior center, were also on the football team. Ke is an immovable post presence, and sophomore Weston Davis provides athleticism at forward.
Back in the day, Alcoran played on the uptempo running Kohala Cowboys teams that annually contended for BIIF titles. But it’s a different deal at Kealakehe.
“We’re pretty young,” he said. “We’ve got decent depth, but we’re not that tall. Lai is 6 feet. Everybody else is below him in height.
“Lewi is an all-around player for us. He can push the ball, and we can put him under the basket. He’s our leading man.”
For toughness, the Waveriders are counting on Trevino, who’s set to play the unsung, garbageman role.
“He does stuff that doesn’t get any points, rebounding, blocking out, getting 50-50 balls,” Alcoran said. “He plays really hard and is our enforcer inside.”
Finishing last was no fun last season, and the Waveriders know it’ll be a steep climb to reach the four-team BIIF playoffs.
“That’s our goal,” Alcoran said. “But we have to take little steps, one step at a time. Konawaena and Kamehameha will be there. But then it’s wide open. If you get into the playoffs, then you get that one chance (to earn an HHSAA state berth).”
Meanwhile, Shibuya knows all about successful rebuilding projects. He’s an assistant on the Trojan football team and led his hoops program to its first postseason appearance last year.
However, five seniors graduated from that squad but one important foundation is already in place.
“We’re going to compete every night,” he said. “We’ve got a good culture going on and off the court. We’re going to give 100 percent all the time. The shots just weren’t falling for us.”
Well, the Trojans fired 23 shots from long range, and only four went in — all by Carvalho, who’s got a steady stroke and other skills as well.
The lanky junior can attack the rack, hit a fadeaway and power up high-percentage looks in the paint.
“He’s a total player for us. He’s one of our captains and is a good leader, too,” Shibuya said. “He’s a total package. He can play inside and out.”
As for stated goals, the Ka‘u coach points out the obvious.
“We’re going to give it our best,” he said. “And Division II looks kind of wide open.”
• Hilo 55, Waiakea 2 47: Jojo Balagot scored 18 points, Kekaukahi Alameda had 17 points, and Shesley Martinez added 11 points for the Vikings.
Peter Suiaunoa scored 16 points, and Bernard Cantorna had 12 points for the Warriors.