BIIF basketball: Pahoa possesses ‘size and skill’

  • RICK OGATA photo Pahoa senior guard Damon Romero was one of the best in BIIF boys basketball last season, making first-team all-Division II. He sat last week with a sprained wrist.

Hopefully, Damon Romero is a fast healer. He’s been off the basketball court because of a sprained wrist.

“He’s been making good progress,” first-year Pahoa coach Ryan Reyes said.

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Romero is a senior guard, an All-BIIF Division II first-team pick, and the team’s best shooter.

The Daggers (1-0), which beat Parker in their season-opener Dec. 3, face Konawaena on Tuesday at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. (Their gym is still under repair.)

Pahoa could have used him last week at St. Joseph’s Cardinal Classic, where too many turnovers and transition baskets led to a 55-39 loss to Waiakea, the defending BIIF Division I champion.

Last season, the Daggers finished 5-8 and lost to Hawaii Prep 55-33 in the BIIF semifinals.

Pahoa last won a BIIF title in 2015 and last went to the HHSAA tournament in 2016. Both teams were stocked with perimeter shooters.

“We have size and skill,” Reyes said. “We have to put a whole game together. We’re young and inexperienced. It’s good for us to play preseason games. Our goal is to get in the Division II state tournament.”

At 6 feet 4, junior Barreon Holland is the tallest on the team. He’s a shot blocker, glass cleaner and inside presence.

He’s from Philadelphia and moved to the Big Island four years go. Last season, he sat out with an injured knee.

His favorite player is no surprise, a guy from the Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons, a 6-foot-10 point guard with ball-handling skills.

“My goal is to play in the league (NBA) and play college ball,” Holland said. “I like it in Hawaii. In Philly, they play a little dirty.”

If the ball-handlers can get him the ball, Holland and Romero have the potential to be a deadly inside-outside scoring duo.

“I like his size. You can’t teach that,” Reyes said. “He plays hard and is willing to learn. He and Romero can be a good combo.

“We want guys to be at their spots, and we’re trying to teach them to play different positions. We’re going to go as far as Romero takes us.”

When the Daggers did manage to break Waiakea’s press, they had good spacing, moved the ball and found an open shooter. It’s a good sign that Pahoa values ball-sharing because that keep team chemistry in check, despite being buried in large deficits.

Besides Romero, the other perimeter threats are junior Jaydan Broad-Melander, freshman Kailen Kamakeeaina, and junior Duke Palma.

“Jaydan is not afraid to take a shot,” Reyes said. “I like guys like that. He’ll be a player for us. Kailen is not afraid to shoot it.

“Duke is our point guard. He’s one of our shortest, but he’s the toughest guy out there.”

The Daggers will need junior forward Paea Taliauli to score inside and take pressure off Holland and defend the rim.

“He plays hard and he’s got a lot of quickness for someone his size,” Reyes said.

The Daggers sometimes lost track of the cutter in Waiakea’s motion offense. The Warriors scored too easily on give-and-go plays.

Reyes believed that those defensive corrections are quick fixes, reminding his backside defenders to be mindful of plugging the lane.

“Defensively, we want to stick to our game plan,” he said. “We can’t afford to allow the other team’s top player to score. We wanted to shut down No. 11 (Kiai Apele). But he’s a crafty guy.”

As the last line of defense, Holland sees potential in his teammates.

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“If we work hard and play defense, we’ve got a chance,” he said. “We have to communicate and trust each other.

“I want to bring a lot of confidence. At practice, everybody can shoot it. We have to have that confidence in games.”

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