Hilo kept hanging around with 3-point shots, but Waiakea went for high-percentage looks, converted at a better rate and relied on its zone defense to fend off its crosstown rival.
Waiakea shot a blistering 57 percent on field goals to defeat the Vikings 73-66 in a BIIF Division I battle on Tuesday night at the Warriors Gym.
Kia’i Apele scored 27 points, including 12 of 15 free throws, while William Soares and Rekky Prudencio added 13 points each, and Jaden Opiana had 10 points for Waiakea (6-2), which buried 26 of 46 field goals, including 2 of 5 from 3-point range.
The Warriors repeatedly attack the basket and sank 18 of 35 from the free throw line.
The win was a significant move up the standings for the Warriors, who still have tough games left at Hawaii Prep on Jan. 31 and at home against Konawaena on Feb. 2.
Jojo Balagot drained four 3-balls and had 17 points while Kekaukahi Alameda scored 14 points, and Guyson Ogata added 10 points for Hilo (4-4), which converted 40 from the floor, including 11 of 3 from long distance. The Vikings sank 9 of 16 free throws.
The loss was a harmful one for the Vikings, who host a crucial game against Kealakehe on Thursday in the musical chairs fight for a spot in the four-team BIIF playoffs.
In the first quarter, Waiakea’s 1-3-1 zone forced five Hilo turnovers, which led to a 9-0 scoring edge. Soares scored six points during that spurt, all on layups.
The Vikings couldn’t play defense without fouling in the second period. The Warriors drained only 6 of 13 free throws. Those misses helped Hilo stay close at halftime, trailing just 33-25.
However, Hilo’s two best players, point guard Alameda and forward Liko Medeiros, picked up their third personal fouls with under five minutes and sat on the bench. But from that point, the Warriors couldn’t capitalize and only outscored the Viks, 9-7.
Without Medeiros, the Vikings had difficulty stopping Waiakea’s dribble-penetration. The Warriors shot 10 of 17 from the line in the first half; Hilo went 0 for 2 but sank 4 of 16 from 3-point range.
In the first half, Soares led the way with 11 points, all on layups. Kovee Rivera, normally a rebounder and last-option shooter, boosted Hilo with six points. He finished with eight points.
The thing about taking 3-point shots is sometimes the long rebounds fall into your hands or they go in.
That happened for the Vikings in the third quarter. They made 4 of 11 from deep, and the ones that missed, the ball bounced to Hilo for rebounds and second-chance shots.
Ogata’s 3-ball gave the Viks a 39-38 lead with 3:40 remaining in the period. It was Hilo’s first lead since early in the first quarter, but it quickly vanished when the visitors didn’t hustle back in transition defense.
The Warriors started to beat them down the court to score easy buckets. Off the bench, Peter Suiaunoa chipped in seven points, and Waiakea closed the quarter with a 15-4 run.
In the fourth quarter, Medeiros swished a 3-pointer to get Hilo within 55-54 with 4:44 left. But the Warriors exposed the Vikings’ lack of height with constant rim attacks. The two-time defending BIIF champions followed with a 12-6 run, dropping in four layups.
The last easy bucket put Waiakea comfortably ahead 67-60 with 2:03 to play. Hilo eventually ran out of 3-point shots.
Hilo 8 17 18 23 — 66
Waiakea 14 19 20 20 — 73
Kealakehe 48, Keaau 43: Bryton Lewi scored nine of his team-high 15 points in the fourth quarter and the Waveriders (5-3) notched an important win over the visiting Cougars to stay alive in the Division I playoff race.
Lewko Lai added 14 for Kealakehe and big-man Anthony Trevino was steady with 12.
Rico Logan Handy scored a game-high 16 points and Patrick Mears scored 15 in the losing effort the Cougs, who fell to 5-3 and in a tie for fourth with Kealakehe.
Hawaii Prep 73, Laupahoehoe 23: Seth Beach (11 points) and KJ Walker (10) each reach double figures as Ka Makani ran away in Waimea, taking a 46-16 halftime lead.
Austin Gonzales scored 10 points for the Seasiders (0-9).
Hawaii Prep (4-2) moved a game behind first-place Honokaa (5-1) in Division II ahead of their meeting Thursday at Honokaa.
Kamehameha 86, St. Joseph 41: Nalu Kahapea scored 16 points and Cyrus Veloria added 14 at Koaia Gym in Keaau as Warriors ran their record to 8-0.
The Cardinals trailed 42-19 at halftime in falling to 0-7.
Konawaena 55, Parker 17: Hau’oli Akau scored 13 points as the Wildcats eased to a home victory to improve to 6-2 and into a tie for second in Division I.
Conner Brown led the Bulls (0-7) with seven points.