KAILUA-KONA — Saturday morning was anything but business as usual for Hilo and Kealakehe.
But when the dust had settled and the warning of ballistic missiles turned out to be a false alarm, it turned out there there was still a game to play at Waverider Stadium, filled with postseason implications.
In a defensive struggled with little offensive fireworks, the D-I rivals battled to a 0-0 tie at Waverider Stadium.
“It was game on and we had to show up to play,” Hilo head coach George Ichimaru said. “It was an unusual morning, but the boys came out ready to play. For us, it’s a good result. We like to win, but we will take it.”
Ichimaru noted that it had been quite some time since the Viks earned a point on the Waveriders’ turf, and this one was an important one with the BIIF playoffs starting on Jan. 30.
With the tie, Hilo moved to 4-3-1, with games against Kamehameha and Waiakea still remaining. The Viks could potentially move up to the No. 2 seed — which would only affect home field — but are locked into a semifinal matchup against Waiakea.
At 3-4-2, Kealakehe will be the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, setting up a date with unbeaten Hawaii Prep in the first round.
Next Saturday will feature playoff previews for both teams, with Hilo travelling to Waiakea and the Waveriders facing Ka Makani in Waimea.
“I think the schedule was fair for everyone and this is how Division I should be — four teams really fighting for position,” Ichimaru said. “We are looking forward to that showdown with Waiakea.”
The scoreless tie was a stark contrast to the first time the teams met early last month, which the Viks took 6-1.
It’s a testament to how the Waveriders have rebounded after an uncharacteristic slow start to the season. Since dropping a 3-1 contest to Hawaii Prep on Dec. 16, Kealakehe is 2-0-2 and getting things going in the right direction at the right time.
“The biggest change from them was their organization and intensity,” Ichimaru said of the difference in the Waveriders from their first go-around. “They really pushed and I think they are putting the pieces together.”
The scoreless affair was especially impressive for the Viks, who played the second half with their third-string keeper. Normal netminder Jyson Breibarth put in a half dealing with the stomach flu, and the team’s backup goalie didn’t make the trip to the west side with a similar ailment.
“Riley Patterson, who’s a solid forward for us, stepped in and did a good job,” Ichimaru said. “Overall, I like that the boys listened and are playing within the system. They aren’t falling back on old habits.”