By JOE FERRARO
KEALAKEKUA — Six Pahoa basketball players missed Friday’s preseason basketball game against Kealakehe because of disciplinary reasons, putting Daggers coach Marc Saito in a foul mood at Konawaena.
“I was hoping we were going to lose so I could blame it on the guys who didn’t play,’’ Saito joked.
Nick Fisher and Joseph Lefiti ruined Saito’s plans.
The dynamic Fisher poured in 28 points, and Lefiti scored seven of his 16 points during a key fourth-quarter run as Pahoa defeated Kealakehe 51-41 on the second day of the round-robin Konawaena boys basketball tournament.
Jaycen Pertubal, Randin Napeahi, Kris Sorcey, Gary Simpkins and Kodie Kahee all missed Friday’s game for a team that features four athletes playing organized basketball for the first time.
“The guys were just not comfortable with each other,’’ Saito said.
It didn’t matter with Fisher and Lefiti, one of the Daggers’ four first-timers, on the court.
With the Daggers clinging to a 36-35 lead with 7 minutes, 3 seconds left in the game, Lefiti scored seven straight points — two baskets in the paint and a 3-pointer off glass that gave Pahoa a 43-35 advantage.
Kealakehe got no closer than eight points the rest of the way against a Pahoa team that dressed just six players.
Lefiti, a four-year starter for the Daggers’ volleyball team, planned on joining the team last year, but a sprained left ankle delayed those plans.
The senior impressed Saito by coming to a practice armed with post moves he’d never displayed before.
Lefiti’s teacher: YouTube.
“I wanted to get better,’’ Lefiti said. “I was afraid of asking coach questions, so I went out on my own.’’
Then there’s Fisher, a great player who got even better over the offseason.
Pahoa coach Marc Saito called for isolation plays in which Fisher repeatedly beat his Kealakehe defender off the dribble for layups.
“He can beat everybody (off penetration) on the court for three quarters,’’ Saito said.
But Saito was more happy Fisher’s refined pull-up jumper and strong interior passes against the Waveriders.
Fisher was all smiles after the victory because of the team’s ability to perform against the Divisoin I Waveriders.
“We did it short-handed, and it gives us a lot of confidence,’’ Fisher said.
Fisher and the Dagger limited Kealakehe to 25 percent shooting in the first half to establish a 24-17 halftime lead.
Then the Waveriders got hot from behind the 3-point arc, with the third of Kainalu Lozano’s three third-quarter treys bringing Kealakehe within 29-28 with 4:01 left in the third quarter.
Lozano finished with five 3-pointers and 17 points.
Deion Utrera added 11 points.
But in the end, it was too much Fisher for the Waveriders.
“On the island right now, can you tell me of a better player than Fisher?” Kealakehe assistant coach Sonny Guerra asked.
Kealakehe 8 9 16 8 — 41
Pahoa 13 11 12 15 — 51