It wasn’t the high-scoring uptempo game one would suspect between Hilo and Konawaena, but the battle was entertaining until the end.
The Wildcats hit enough free throws down the stretch to hold off Hilo 46-42 in a BIIF Division I showdown on Tuesday night at the Vikings gym.
Ethan Neru scored 15 points, including nine in the second half, for the Wildcats (1-0).
Rayson Padilla scored 14 for the Vikings (0-1), who kick off their annual tournament Thursday at their gym. Padilla hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut Kona’s lead to 42-38 with under two minutes.
But Nero sank two free throws with nine seconds left to seal the win.
Konawaena opened the third quarter with back-to-back putback baskets, Orion Smith closed the period with a layup and one of two free throws.
In the first half, neither team was able to get its transition game going, and the Wildcats led 24-20 at the break.
Konawaena looked to work the ball inside and shot 56 percent in the first half, despite committing nine turnovers. Hilo attacked the basket and got to the free throw line. The Vikings shot 12 of 21 from the line while the Wildcats sank 3 of 10 free throws.
The Vikings struggled with their jump shooting and made just 29 percent from the field.
In the JV game, it was Hilo 64, Konawaena 58.