State girls D-II basketball: Hawaii Baptist brushes off HPA 54-16 in first round

  • RICK OGATA photo Hawaii Prep's Ali Wawner makes a 3-pointer over Hawaii Baptist's Sasha Phillip on Wednesday night during the Eagles' 54-16 victory in the first round of the state Division II girls basketball tournament at Afook Chinen Civic Auditorium.

From start to finish, Hawaii Baptist Academy made it a rough opening night for Hawaii Prep on Wednesday at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in the first round of the girls’ basketball Division II State Tournament.

The Eagles glided to a wire-to-wire 54-16 win that sent Ka Makani into the loser’s bracket and set up HBA with a matchup against a familiar foe.

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Hawaii Baptist plays a 5 p.m. game Thursday against Seabury Hall, the team it defeated last year for the state championship.

“They’ll be after us, we know that,” said Eagles coach Robin Yamaguchi. “It was close last year, I hope we’re ready this time.”

They certainly were Wednesday when they ran out to a a 14-0 lead before Ka Makani could get on the scoreboard and never came to losing the lead. It was 16-3 after the first quarter, 28-5 at halftime.

The victory improved Hawaii Baptist to 8-2 and dropped BIIF runner-up HPA to 5-8.

“We didn’t come ready,” said HPA coach Lacey Hester, “we just didn’t have it tonight, pretty disappointing.”

Hawaii Baptist dominated the boards and was the more aggressive team throughout, opening with a full court press that Ka Makani was unable to handle, finishing with 15 turnovers to just 4 for HPA.

The big edge came on the boards where the Eagles had 54 rebounds to just 26 for HPA. Between them, Sasha Phillip (13) and Emi Wada (12) nearly matched the total rebounds of HPA.

Hawaii Prep tasted some of this in a preseason game at Waimea when it absorbed a 57-26 loss, and this was more of the same medicine.

“We saw in that game that their kids had some difficulties with the press,” said Yamaguchi, “so my thought was to come right after them and try to shake things up. It’s the state tournament, I didn’t want to get into a situation where we were letting them hang around, I thought that might make our girls tighten up. But they played well, they played hard.”

Neither team shot well, but the rebounding advantage gave the Eagles some cutbacks that kept them up throughout the game.

Hawaii Baptist made just 19 of 67 shots but was aided by 13-of-16 from the foul line.

Ka Makani was just 7-of-34 from the floor and made only one of its six free throws.

“I don’t like making excuses,” said Hester, “but we have a pretty young team and we have girls who never played the game before, so it takes some time. There’s a lot of learning going on, but still, we needed to play better tonight and we didn’t, that’s the bottom line.

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Sasha Phillip led Hawaii Baptist with 13 points, Wada had 12 .

Maja Burdova led HPA with 7, including the team’s only 3-pointer.