By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
It’s a good thing the Big Island Interscholastic Federation referees didn’t have a radar gun during the Hilo vs. Ka’u game on Friday night in the first round of the Cardinals Basketball Classic. If they did, the streaking Vikings might have been tagged for speeding to the basket on several occasions.
Led by talented juniors Jalen Carvalho and Jodd Carter, the Vikings rushed past the Division II Trojans 65-34 in a high octane contest.
In other varsity action at Hilo Armory, Kohala ran past host St. Joseph 57-15 in the late game. In junior-varsity play, Hilo defeated Hawaii Preparatory Academy 49-26.
The two-day preseason tournament includes four varsity teams and two JV squads. In today’s final round, St. Joseph battles the HPA JV at 4:30 p.m. for fifth place, followed by Ka’u vs. Hilo JV at 6 p.m. for third place and Hilo vs. Kohala at 7:30 p.m. for the championship.
Carvalho, a versatile 6-foot-2 guard/small forward, terrorized Ka’u for a game-high 24 points, including three 3-pointers, and the cat-quick Carter added 11 points to spark the victory.
But from watching the Vikings play, it’s obvious they have a loaded roster and will carry the tag of “the D-I team to beat” in the BIIF this season.
Hilo coach Jason Mandaquit watched his squad press full and half court in the first half, opening the door for effective double teams and steals as the Vikings raced to a 28-17 lead at the intermission. Hilo then outscored the hustling Trojans 25-9 in the third quarter to break away and led 53-26 heading into the final period.
Carvalho, an explosive scorer from inside and out, scored the first nine points of the third quarter to ignite a 13-2 run while Carter, a 5-9 shooting guard, added a layup and senior Kamu Patnaude a 16-foot jumper during the point spree. Mandaquit then quickly substituted and got more of his young players into the game.
The Vikings outpointed Ka’u 12-8 in the fourth period.
“The best thing about tonight is that our young guys were getting game experience,” Mandaquit said. “Everybody got to play tonight and the bench guys got a lot of minutes.
“Right now, I feel confident with a seven- to eight-man rotation. But it’s easier to evaluate the other guys based on game experience. This preseason, we’ll be playing 22 games, including in the Iolani Classic. We want our guys to get as much game experience as possible.”
Against Ka’u, Mandaquit started one senior (Patnaude) and four underclassmen (Carvalho, Carter, Drew Kell and Austin Dante, a young point guard with good vision and bright, lime green Nikes). Patnaude, Jacob Genegabus and Hoku Mattos are the three seniors on the Hilo roster.
“We’ve got a good group — a young group — and we want them to play as much as we can to get better,” Mandaquit said.”We want to play hard and put a lot of pressure on the other teams.”
Ka’u coach Ravel Kaupu liked the challenge of playing Hilo.
“It makes us better,” the coach said. “I’m happy with our performance tonight. It’s good experience facing that type of defensive pressure. We learned some things and should be able to improve from the mistakes we made. The boys played hard all the way.”
The Trojans were at times flustered by the Vikings’ pressure defense, but they never lost their composure and kept plugging away regardless of the score.
Alexis Alejo led Ka’u with eight points and Lehre Vidal had seven.
• Kohala 57, St. Joseph 15: Kala’l Salis Kapeliela scored 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and Arvi Realista added nine points to lead the running-and-pressing Cowboys to lopsided win over the young Cardinals.
Junior Ben Uhlmann led the hosts with 11 points.
The Don Fernandez-coached Cowboys led 19-6 at the end of the first period and 47-12 at the intermission. But the scoring slowed in the second half, with Kohala outpointing the Cardinals 4-1 in the third quarter and 16-2 in the fourth.
Kohala’s experience and talent were too much for the Cardinals, who have no seniors on their nine-man roster and little experience. But St. Joseph weathered numerous turnovers and first-game jitters in the contest to pick up valuable experience of what they’ll face this season on the varsity level.
St. Joseph, under co-head coaches Ron Masulit and Mike Scanlan, lost all of its starters and top reserves from last year’s strong squad that was a BIIF Division II contender.
The Cowboys hope to be a D-II contender again this year and earn a return trip to the state D-II tournament on Oahu.
• Hilo JV 49, HPA JV 26: Sione Atuekaho and Jordan Caogolan each scored 11 points to lead the Vikings.
Tomita Eiji and Victor Lee had eight points apiece for the Ka Makani.
Hilo led 35-11 at the intermission while both teams played their entire rosters in the second half.
At Hilo Armory
Ka’u 5 12 9 8 — 34
Hilo 14 14 25 12 — 65
St. Joe 6 6 1 2 — 15
Kohala 19 28 4 16 — 57
HPA JV 7 4 8 7 — 26
Hilo JV 10 25 8 6 — 49