Hilo freshman Keirstyn Agonias rose to the occasion in a preseason game against Waiakea that felt more like a do-or-die postseason battle.
The 5-foot-7 guard scored a game-high 23 points, and the Vikings beat the Warriors 88-75 in overtime in the final round of the Waiakea tournament on Saturday night.
“I’m lucky to have her on the team,” Hilo coach Cliff Kawaha said.
The Vikings made their free throws count. They buried 75 percent or 25 of 35, including 16 of 22 in overtime. Even better, they had great ball-security with zero turnovers. Waiakea had five giveaways in the final five minutes.
Veda Galima, Hilo’s other promising freshman, finished with 14 points, and Samm Brewer did her usual board work and added 11 points.
Jazelle Dorser relied on her array of post moves and scored 22 points for Waiakea. Bethany Honma added 11 points, and Kelsie Imai had 10 points.
In the fourth quarter, Agonias made 1 of 2 free throws for a 68-68 tie with 50.3 seconds left. Then things got a little wild.
Waiakea didn’t play for the last shot and missed an attempt with 32 seconds remaining. But Hilo committed a foul for a turnover with 11.7 seconds to go.
On the inbound, the Warriors had a sloppy pass, which Agonias picked off and dropped in a layup for a 70-68 lead with 10.2 seconds to play.
With 6.5 seconds on the clock, Imai raced down the floor and fed Zaelynn Lui-Cabinatan, who scored right before the buzzer.
With Mindy Kawaha, Asia Castillo, and Agonias, the Vikings were able to break Waiakea’s man pressure, traps and the occasional 1-2-2 halfcourt press.
Agonias guarded Imai. While the Waiakea point guard didn’t have a high point output, she did the next best thing, dishing the ball to Dorser. Imai also tagged fouls on the Vikings and went 8 of 17 from the line.
The first quarter started out as a track meet. Both teams pushed the ball and committed a ton of turnovers — 18 combined in the first eight minutes.
Hilo avoided Waiakea’s ball pressure with long-distance launches but made just five 3-pointers. Waiakea had only three triples, including a pair by Honma.
In the second quarter, Agonias asserted herself with nine points, dropping in four layups, often slipping past Waiakea’s press.
Waiakea worked the ball inside to Dorser to get within 49-47 for the final eight minutes.
“This is the kind of game we need,” Kawaha said. “The girls dug deep and played with heart. We push them at practice to play hard and it showed tonight.”