By JOE FERRARO
KEALAKEKUA — He believes any of eight players on his team can start for other boys basketball squads on the island.
Konawaena put the quality depth Wildcats coach Donny Awa values so much on display in a preseason basketball game at Onizuka Gymnasium on Thursday.
Brenton Shropshire scored 15 points, and Kenan Gaspar and Brandon Awa each had seven as nine different Konawaena players hit the scorebook in the Wildcats’ 56-39 victory over Hawaii Prep.
“I think they’ve played together so long I don’t have to do a lot of coaching,’’ Awa said of the Wildcats.
Konawaena showed that strong chemistry in the first quarter, when six different players scored to give the Wildcats an 18-5 lead after the first period.
Konawaena, which never led by less than nine points the rest of the way, spread the wealth by moving well without the ball — something Awa thought the team got away from a little in the second quarter but sustained in the second half.
“We had to move the ball and move the defense,’’ said Shrophire, who scored four of his points on putbacks and asserted himself on the offensive boards. “We needed cutters to find the basket.’’
Wildcats players have no problem being cutters with pass-first guard Brandon Awa running the point, dishing the ball to open teammates off penetration and delivering crisp interior passes into the post.
The younger Awa has plenty of scoring options.
Gaspar can slice through the lane, while Trevor Tanaka can hurt teams from the outside. Versatile Jonah Bredeson can do both.
Pookela Hanato-Smith, Nick Mims and Kamehameha-Hawaii transfer Chase Takaki round out Donny Awa’s core group of eight.
Hawaii Prep enters the season having graduated sharp-shooting guard Dakota Berman, a prolific scorer for a team that won the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II title.
The Ka Makani, behind Sefa Rocha-Tufaga (eight points) and Kama DeSilva, still fared well from behind the arc against the Wildcats, hitting five 3-pointers.
Jovan Crnic (nine points) displayed a strong all-around game, getting his teammates involved and scoring points off transition.
But HPA coach Fred Wawner said his team may have relied too much on Crnic early in the game to create for others and that his team needs to perform better on the boards.
“We got hurt on the defensive glass,’’ Wawner said. “They got 20 extra offensive possessions off offensive rebounds.
“We need to create an identity of toughness on the defensive end.’’