Basketball: Vulcans enter final three-game stretch with playoffs in mind

  • UHH photo The UHH women (9-14, 8-11) play HPU at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hilo Civic and will honor seniors Kim Schmelz and Chyann Gabriel.

  • UHH photo On Saturday, UHH will honor seniors Kupaa Harrison, who averages 17.9 points per game, and sixth man Kaleb Gilmore.

At the very least, the UH-Hilo men’s basketball team controls its own destiny.

The Vulcans (11-12, 9-10 PacWest) sit in sixth place in the conference, the last spot for the postseason.

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They close their season with a three-game stretch, playing Hawaii Pacific (7-12, 9-16) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Hilo Civic, at Chaminade next Thursday and at HPU next Saturday.

UHH is a game up on Academy of Art (10-16, 8-11), which beat UHH 91-74 last Saturday.

Luckily for the Vuls, the Urban Knights have a tougher closing stretch. They play No. 3 Concordia (20-8, 14-5) on Saturday, No. 2 Point Loma (19-6, 15-4) next Thursday, and cellar dweller Notre Dame de Namur (3-22, 2-17) next Saturday.

It’s more likely than not that AAU will go 1-2, losing to the top powers and beating the lowly Argonauts.

If UHH and AAU are tied for sixth place, the Urban Knights will qualify for the PacWest postseason. They swept the home and away series.

It’s probably a good thing that the Vuls play HPU twice and not Chaminade. The Silverswords, one of the conference’s most athletic teams, blitzed UHH at home 92-70. Tyler Cartaino slashed to the hoop and scored 26 points.

On Saturday, UHH will honor seniors Kupaa Harrison, who averages 17.9 points per game, and sixth man Kaleb Gilmore.

The Vulcans split two of four games on their recent road trip. Harrison hit the game-winner in the two victories. Earlier this year, he drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Holy Names 79-76 in overtime.

HPU was in the PacWest postseason race but has lost six in a row. The Sharks are ninth and stuck in the role of spoiler.

But they’re still dangerous. Ronald Blain ranks sixth in scoring with 16 ppg and ninth in rebounding at 6.5.

The Vulcans more likely than not need to win one game to reach the postseason. And they’ve got a better chance to do it at home, where they are 7-3. They’re 2-8 on the road.

Last season, UHH was in postseason contention but lost a buzzer-beater to Chaminade in its final game.

The UHH women (9-14, 8-11) play HPU at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hilo Civic and will honor seniors Kim Schmelz and Chyann Gabriel.

The Vulcans are seventh in the standings and would need to win their final three games, a seemingly insurmountable task.

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HPU (24-1, 19-0) is ranked fifth in the national poll and boasts two players in the conference’s top 10 in scoring in Starr Rivera (18.0 ppg), who is fourth, and Abbey Noblett (14.8 ppg), who is 10th.

UHH junior Allie Navarette (18.9) is third in scoring in the PacWest.

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