There were calls to bring Lansen Aranaydo back into the game late during his makeshift senior day, but coach Pahoa Robert Clifford couldn’t justify it.
Not with Hawaii Prep on tap.
The Daggers earned the right to take on the BIIF’s only unbeaten, getting 14 points from Damon Romero and balanced scoring Friday night at UH-Hilo gym to pull away from Ka’u 54-44 in a Division II play-in, advancing to the semifinals for the first time since 2016.
“Everybody moved the ball around pretty well and everybody connected, and that took a lot of pressure of Damon and Lansen,” Clifford said.
Izaiah Pilanca-Emmsley led the Trojans (4-9) with 14 points and Andre Carvalho added 13.
The Daggers led 31-30 at the half.
Ka Makani (12-0) and Pahoa (5-8) will open the slate of four semifinals at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. HPA won the regular season matchup 64-43 on Jan. 17 in Waimea, though Clifford said the game was close for half.
“They are a great team and very well-coached,” Clifford said. “Job No. 1 is taking care of the ball.”
Aranaydo is Pahoa’s only senior, and the Daggers finally had a chance to honor him Friday night after playing all of their previous games on the road as their gym is refurbished.
“It was good for him to have the opportunity,” Clifford said. “Everyone was cheering for him to come back in at the end.”
But an injury couldn’t be risked, not when it’s all hands on deck.