KAILUA-KONA – Just a few minutes after his team was handed their medals, Hawaii Prep head coach Fred Wawner was already looking ahead to the next stage — the state tournament.
After all, it’s not Ka Makani’s first time winning the BIIF Division II boys basketball title.
No. 1 seeded HPA defeated the No. 2 Kohala Cowboys 60-42 Wednesday at Kealakehe High School for their third consecutive BIIF championship. The game, a rematch of last year’s 78-58 win by HPA, is just the beginning of the postseason for both teams, who have clinched spots at state.
“We just talked in the locker room about how proud we are of winning this, but we also want to represent our island really well at state, and we know Kohala can too,” Wawner said. “So we’re not done.”
Ka Makani was led to victory by junior KJ Walker, who scored a game-high 18 points for HPA. Senior Michael Hughes scored 15, and sophomore Tre Walker scored nine.
In the second quarter, Kohala almost came back from a nine-point deficit behind sophomores Koby Agbayani and O’shen Cazimero to come within three points of HPA’s lead.
Ka Makani recovered in the second half, shutting down the Cowboys as Kohala only score nine points in the third quarter and nine in the fourth.
“They shot the ball so well in the first half, but we really did not know how to adjust and their good with the ball too so if you extend too much they can drive by you,” Wawner said. “We just did our best to close out and luckily they started to miss a couple of those threes. We did a better job rebounding the ball tonight than we have in the last couple games so I was proud of that.”
Agbayani and Kohala senior Elijah Antonio both finished the game with 10 points apiece. Cazimero finished with seven, and junior Jeffrey Francisco had five for Kohala.
The Cowboys haven’t won a BIIF title since 2014, when they defeated HPA on their way to a fourth place finish in the state tournament.
“We’re a little disappointed, but we tried our hardest, and that’s all I could ask the boys for,” Kohala head coach Kihei Kapeliela said. “We couldn’t get anything to fall, not even layups or free throws. Nothing was going, but the boys left it all on the court and that’s all I asked for.”
The Cowboys’ season isn’t finished yet. With their win over Pahoa in the BIIF semifinals, they also get a chance to compete in the state tournament.
The Cowboys lost in the quarterfinals last year to the eventual state champion, Damien, 73-42. HPA finished in third place.
“I have a lot of seniors, so if you look at the difference in these two teams, they’ve got a really bright future, and we kind of need to get ours right now,” Wawner said of Kohala’s youthful roster, which only has three seniors. “Their journey has been great. It’s not easy to win in this league and to win tournament championships, so that’s something special that my team is going to take with them and leave in their legacy.”
With the BIIF season over, both teams will be preparing for the bright lights in Oahu this coming week. Wawner said he wants his team to go back to the basics in practice.
“As season goes on you start to cheat and take some shortcuts so we want to get back to our principals a little bit and get a little more healthy and a little rest and make sure we’re at our best,” Wawner said. “I know Kohala is really good and I hope we can both represent the Big Island well at state because both teams deserve to be over there.”