Catch the fever: Vulcans hoops up next

For all the East Hawaii fans of local sports out there, who has it better than you right now?

Hilo High is still basking in its state football championship glory, and next weekend UH-Hilo’s volleyball team sees its first postseason action in eight years.

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In addition, by the end of the week the regular season of all five of the BIIF’s winters sports (basketball, soccer, paddling, wrestling and swimming/diving) will be underway.

But first, UHH’s men’s basketball plays its home opener Monday night against Azusa Pacific at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium, and coach GE Coleman said the Vulcans are starting at the top.

“Azusa is without a doubt the best team in the Pacific West Conference,” Coleman said.

UHH (1-1) has had more than a two-week break since opening the season with a 74-69 win over Concordia (Ore.) – Kupaa Harrison scored 25 points – and a 74-69 loss to Western Oregon.

“More than anything, we just need to go out and play,” Coleman said. “The break is not ideal. We’ve been fine-tuning some things, worked on some of the weaknesses and some of our strengths.”

There were no glaring weaknesses that popped up during those first two games, he said, which could prove beneficial against the Cougars (5-1), who have a way of exposing weakness.

Azusa is ranked second in the West, and Preseason PacWest player of the year Selom Mawugbe hasn’t disappointed, averaging 15.7 points per game and 11.5 rebounds while shooting more than 60 percent from the field.

The 6-foot-10 center already is the PacWest’s all-time shot block leader.

UHH guard Isaiah Duplechan didn’t play in the first two games because of an injury, but if he makes his debut Monday he could add scoring punch. Coleman said he was a game-time decision.

Harrison (21 points) and Jordan Graves (16.5) are the team’s scoring leaders, but three others are also in double figures or close to it in Sasa Vuksanovic (11), Damani Whitlock (10) and Jaylen Thompson (9.5).

In the 5 p.m. opener, the UHH women (1-2) face a tough task as well. The Cougars (5-0) are ranked fourth in the nation and tops in the West.

Stansberry, Hawaii beat D-II Hawaii Pacific 58-41

HONOLULU — Eddie Stansberry hit three 3-pointers and finished with 15 points and Hawaii beat Division II Hawaii Pacific 58-41 on Sunday night.

Drew Buggs had nine points, five rebounds and five assists for the Hawaii, which has won three games in a row and five of its last six.

Hawaii Pacific jumped to a 9-4 lead as the Rainbow Warriors (6-2) missed 11 of their first 13 field-goal attempts but they scored 23 of the next 29 points to open a 12-point lead early in second half. Stansberry had all his 15 points during that stretch.

Daniel Melifonwu and Jacob Foy scored seven points apiece for Hawaii Pacific.

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The Rainbow Warriors, who shot just 39.3% (11 of 28) from the field in the first half, made 14 of 27 (52%) after the break.

Hawaii plays at No. 11 Oregon on Saturday.

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