HONOKAA — Life in the fast lane on the basketball court suits Kohala just fine.
The Cowboys raced past Honokaa 79-62 in a BIIF Division II boys basketball game Monday night at Honokaa Armory.
Koby Agbayani knocked down five 3-pointers and finished with 21 points to spark the Cowboys (4-0), who shot 37 percent (24 of 64) from the field, including 7 of 21 from beyond the arc.
Jeffrey Francisco came off the bench and added 15 points, and O’Shen Cazimero scored 13 points, including 12 in the second half and made 7 of 12 free throws.
“The boys were mentally strong,” Kohala coach Kihei Kapeliela said. “We’re going to get everybody’s best game. Everybody is going to bring their ‘A’ game against us.”
It’s safe to assume the Dragons would crank it up a notch against the Cowboys, who eliminated Honokaa 71-41 in the BIIF semifinals last year. Cazimero scored 26 points, and Honokaa committed 29 turnovers.
The Dragons are playing short-handed with three starters out, including All-BIIF first-team pick Isaac Jardine, who’s recovering from a knee injury.
Emery Eberhard, a 6-foot-5 junior, scored 15 points, and Keawe Tolentino came off the bench and added seven points for the Dragons (0-2), who converted 43 percent (18 of 42) from the floor.
The game turned in the third quarter. At halftime, Kohala led 27-26. But once the Cowboys swung the ball to Agbayani, the sophomore guard, swished three triples, the last for a 57–41 lead at the buzzer.
“He’s been in a shooting slump, but he really stepped it up for us,” Kapeliela said.
For most of the game, it was bumper-car basketball. Defenders were clogged near the basket, and ball-handlers zipped to the rim, drew blocking fouls and shot free throws.
Honokaa hit just 25 of 55 free throws. Kohala also struggled and made 23 of 43 free throws.
The Dragons left too many points on the free throw line. And their lack of ball security also doomed them.
The Cowboys also applied tough ball pressure and forced 24 turnovers. They had just 12 turnovers.
It was typical Kohala hoops: Drive to the rim, draw fouls, knock down 3-pointers and hound the ball-handlers.
Honokaa coach Jayme Carvalho hoped that his Dragons could have done a better job with the simple things.
“We want to defend, rebound, run, recover and make our free throws,” he said. “It’s the simple things. It’s one plus one equals two. Grab a rebound, make your free throw.”
Kohala was able to front Eberhard and clamp down on anyone else who touched the ball.
The first half was a fast and furious case of foul-filled ball. Honokaa made 12 of 19 free throws; Kohala converted 9 of 18 and led 27-26 at halftime.
Jahsaiah Yoshizumi came off the bench to score eight points, and Eberhard added seven points for the Dragons, who hurt themselves with 15 turnovers in the first half.
Francisco came off the bench to score nine points for the Cowboys, who had just five turnovers in the first half.
Cazimero was plagued by foul trouble and scored just one point in the first half.
Whenever Eberhard parked himself in the paint, he banked in close shots for easy points, scoring six points in the first quarter.
The Cowboys countered with ball pressure to force turnovers, which led to drives to the basket and free throws. They were inaccurate from long distance and made just 2 of 13 from beyond the arc.
The Dragons are crossing their fingers that Jardine gets healthy before the BIIF postseason.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys look poised to challenge for their first BIIF title since 2014. That same year, Hawaii Prep finished second but pocketed its first HHSAA championship. The two rivals play Jan. 30 at Castle Gym in the last game of the regular season.
Kohala has seven games before that showdown in Waimea, starting with a home game against Parker on Wednesday. And the Cowboys can count on one thing: The Bulls and everyone else will bring their ‘A’ game.
Hawaii Prep 55, Konawaena 49: KJ Walker nearly totaled half of his team’s points with 27 as Ka Makani left Kealakekua with a solid cross-divisional victory.
Tre Walker scored 14 points for HPA (3-0), which has won 16 consective league games dating back to the end of the 2018 season.
Kahiau Holzgrove was the only player to reach double figures for the Wildcats (3-2) with 10 points.
Kamehameha 59, Keaau 38: Izayah Chartrand-Panera led the show with 31 points as the Warriors pulled away at Koaia Gym for their first win.
Playing its first game since Dec. 21, Kamehameha (1-2) used a 16-8 second-quarter run to lead by nine points at the break. Ahead 39-25 after three quarter it scored 20 points in the fourth, dropping the Cougars to 2-3.
The game was a rematch of last season’s BIIF D-I play-in game, also won by the Warriors.
Hilo 39, Kealakehe 31: The Vikings’ home win created a three-way tie for second in D-I between Hilo (3-2), Konawaena and the Waveriders.
Keaau 60 girls, Christian Liberty 48: Anela Gonzalez-Tremaine came up big for the Cougars with 36 points as Keaau came back to win at home.
Shayla Kaheaku chipped in with 10 for Keaau (3-1), which trailed 26-21 at the half and took a three-point lead to the fourth quarter.
The Canefire (1-3) had three players reach double figures, led by Kamille Febo-Santiago with 18. Brooke Perreira scored 15 and Kassey Hanoa had 11.
Parker boys 52, St. Joseph 43: Tyler Thomas scored 14 points and Riley Higgins had 12 as the host Bulls (1-4) won their first game of the season.
Jayden Villena led the Cardinals (0-6) with 18 points.
Pahoa 50, Ka’u 43: Jaydan Broad-Melander scored 14 points in Pahala and Damon Romero added 12 as the Daggers (3-1) won after leading by two points entering the fourth quarter.
Kyson Toriano led the Trojans (1-4) with 11 points and Blake Nakano and Michael Rodarte each had 10.