By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
With a young and inexperienced team this year, Pahoa’s Nick Fisher did his best LeBron James impression and led the Daggers to a state-tournament berth.
Fisher, a multi-talented 6-foot-1 guard/forward, stood tall for Pahoa in every game — providing scoring, rebounding, defense and leadership in a brilliant senior season. He led the hustling Daggers into the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II playoffs and championship game against defending champion Hawaii Prep.
But in a heart-pounding 67-65 win over Kohala in the D-II semifinals, Fisher, who had a game-high 22 points, cramped up in the final seconds and couldn’t finish. Still the Daggers held on to eliminate the Cowboys and clinch a state-tourney berth.
Fisher couldn’t play in the BIIF final against the tall Ka Makani, who fought past Pahoa 64-39. However, he returned for the state tournament and led the Daggers to a fifth-place finish, scoring 26 points on the final day as Pahoa beat Waianae 47-42. During his four-year career at Pahoa, the Daggers captured one state D-II title, a runnerup finish and a fifth-place finish. They also claimed a BIIF crown and finished second twice.
In the BIIF this season, Fisher stepped up again and delivered a sterling all-around performance. He averaged 19 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.5 steals and 4.5 assists per game. His outstanding play was rewarded by the league coaches who voted the versatile Dagger as the East Division’s Player of the Year.
“Nick provided us with outstanding leadership this year,” Pahoa coach Marc Saito said. “He really matured over the summer and when he came back from the mainland, he was ready to play. He said he wanted to play college ball and I asked him to not rely on only his athleticism this year, but to learn more about situational stuff in the games.
“He became a better player this year and understands really what’s going on at all times in the game.”
Fisher is joined on the all-East Division first team by Kamehameha’s Shaun Kagawa, Waiakea’s Dillon Rellez and Lucas St. George, and Keaau’s Davin Alviento.
Kagawa, a 5-11 senior guard, was a dynamic player for the Warriors. He could score in a variety of ways, handle the ball, rebound and play defense — and for the past two years he’s been considered by some coaches as the the top defender in the state. But like Fisher, Kagawa’s all-around play included leadership and helping make his teammates better. The young Warriors were one of the surprise teams in the BIIF this season and Kagawa was the fuel that ignited the successful run.
Rellez, a 5-9 junior guard, was a constant for the Warriors, providing scoring, rebounding and defense. But he was especially tough down the stretch in games, when his deadly free-throw shooting helped Waiakea twice beat rival Hilo during the regular season.
Alviento, a 5-10 senior guard, was the Cougars’ leading scorer and often led the way when Keaau chalked up a win. He had a deadly outside shot, could score on the drive and provided the Cougars with solid ballhandling. And in Keaau’s disciplined offense and tough defense, Alviento was a good fit.
St. George, a 6-3 junior forward, was a consistent scorer, rebounder and defender for the young Warriors. He also was one of the league’s better shotblockers and effective on the break when driving to the basket for a layup or dunk.
The all-East Division second team includes Waiakea’s Owen Sandstrom, Hilo’s Kamuela Patnaude, Keaau’s Sean Stone and Kamehameha’s La’a Manliguis and Ilikai Calip.
Sandstrom is a 6-2 senior forward with a soft shooting stroke and who provided Waiakea with steady scoring, rebounding and defense; Patnaude, a 5-11 senior who played intense defense and gave the Vikings an offensive spark; Stone, a 6-2 senior forward who was a force on defense and rebounding; Manliguis, a 6-1 junior who had one of the deadliest 3-point shots in the league and was a terrific defender; and Calip, a 6-1 senior who provided perimeter scoring and was versatile on defense for the private-school Warriors.
Three coaches shared the East Division Coach of the Year honor. They include Kamehameha’s Dominic Pacheco, Keaau’s Mark Kawaha and Pahoa’s Marc Saito.
Pacheco took a young squad and led it into the BIIF playoffs. The Warriors improved throughout the season and may be a league title contender next year. He was assisted by Brandon Kauhi, Todd Yanagi, Vince Ulloa, Keone Veincent and Adam Kakalia.
Kawaha led the hustling Cougars to a productive season and Keaau seemed to give every opponent trouble. The Cougars were one of the league’s top defensive teams. He was assisted by Donald Yamada, Mark Pocock, Jacob Naki and Adam McGuire.
Saito led the young Daggers to a runnerup finish in the BIIF and a state D-II tournament berth. He built his squad around seniors Nick Fisher and Randin Napeahi and promising sophomore Tolby Saito, his son, and the Daggers responded with a run at the league title in late February.
“I’m happy how things worked out for our team,” Saito said. “We didn’t have much experience and lost a lot of guys. But we were still able to make it to states. I’m proud of the team’s accomplishments.”
He also credited his assistants — Ferdie Masulit, Tad Saito, John Byrd, Colby Iwashita and Keenan Komeiji — for the team’s success.
“We had a lot of experience on the staff and all of us coached the team,” Marc Saito said.
All-Big Island Interscholastic Federation
Boys Basketball Teams
Nick Fisher 6-1 Sr. Pahoa
Shaun Kagawa 5-11 Sr. Kamehameha
Dillon Rellez 5-9 Jr. Waiakea
Davin Alviento 5-10 Sr. Keaau
Lucas St. George 6-3 Jr. Waiakea
Owen Sandstrom 6-2 Sr. Waiakea
Kamuela Patnaude 5-11 Sr. Hilo
Sean Stone 6-2 Sr. Keaau
La’a Manliguis 6-1 Jr. Kamehameha
Ilikai Calip 6-1 Sr. Kamehameha
East Player of the Year
Nick Fisher, Pahoa
East Coach of the Year (tie)
Dominic Pacheco, Kamehameha
Mark Kawaha, Keaau
Marc Saito, Pahoa
Jacob Genegabus 5-11 Sr. Hilo
Drew Kell 6-0 Jr. Hilo
Micah Carter 6-0 Jr. Kamehameha
Greg Javar 5-8 Sr. Ka’u
Jansen Cadaroma 5-8 Sr. Ka’u
Royden Esperon 5-10 Sr. Ka’u
Chaney Simeon-Paulino 5-11 Sr. Keaau
Nick Pagtama 5-11 Sr. Keaau
Tolby Saito 5-8 So. Pahoa
Randin Napeahi 6-0 Sr. Pahoa
Bryson Ita 5-7 Jr. Waiakea
Maikai Gahan 5-10 Jr. Waiakea