This story first appeared at www.hawaiitribune-herald.com
By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Hilo High’s preseason opener seemed to go smoothly enough, but coach Ben Pana and junior Chailey Cabalis couldn’t help but feel that the Vikings could do better a day later.
With each drip of defensive intensity drained Friday night, they got more of what they were looking for.
The Vikings harassed Kamehameha-Hawaii into 28 turnovers and Hilo used balanced scoring to run away and cruise to a 66-30 victory at the Waiakea girls preseason tournament.
“Defense played exceptional, better than last night,” Pana said. “We improved overnight.”
On the opening day of the tournament, Hilo beat Maui 65-41. But Cabalis, one of three players to score 12 points Friday night, said the Vikings worked together more as a team against the Warriors.
“Tonight we did awesome,” she said.
As Hilo frustrated Kamehameha with its full-court man defense, it took advantage with easy baskets on the other end, turning the game into a virtual layup drill. And when the Warriors did manage to keep possession, the Vikings moved fast to try and get a hand on the ball.
“That’s our model,” Pana said. “We try to make defense our No. 1 offense. That’s our goal for the season.”
Cabalis, Sharlei Graham-Bernisto and Shalyn Guthier were often the benefactor. Each scored 12 points as they often ran uncontested for layups to break open a game that matched the top East Hawaii teams in Division I and II.
“We work hard on defense,” Cabalis said. “We can rest on offense. We trained all summer long.”
Alexis Pana and Amber Vaughn added nine for the Vikings, who were the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I runner-up last season and finished third at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament. Raevyn Kaupu added seven points for the Vikings, who were never seriously challenged after starting the game on a 13-0 run.
Alexis Pana’s best spurt came during a stretch spanning the first and second quarters. The sophomore scored the final five points of the first, hitting a jumper at the buzzer to give Hilo a 20-7 lead. After Vaughn made a 3-pointer to open the second, Pana found Kaupu with a nifty pass to create a layup, and she followed that with another basket. A few possessions later, Cabalis’ 3 gave a Hilo a 33-13 lead.
The Vikings were so good on one end of the floor, they didn’t even need any offensive production from Aliyah Pana, the Hawaii Gatorade Player of the Year last season.
“I like what I see,” Ben Pana said. “Last year we depended on her a lot in the playoffs. It’s still the preseason, she’ll get her share.”
Casey Poe led the Warriors, the two-time HHSAA Division II champion and six-time BIIF champion, with 11 points and Riana Arima added seven.
Coach Garrett Arima said his team did well to limit itself to just eight turnovers in the second half.
“I asked the girls to cut the turnovers at halftime, and that’s an accomplishment for us,” he said. “Hilo is known for their smothering defense. It’s something that they’ve worked hard at. We’re really young, and it’s just a matter of fixing what we do.”
Ben Pana said his team would have to do a better job of avoiding contact on defense. Hilo committed 15 fouls in the first half, but Kamehameha was only able to make 4 of 18 from the free-throw line.
“It’s about the kids learning the emphasis on the hand-check and the armbar in the post,” Pana said. “That’s what we’re getting caught with a lot. It’s a work-in-progress with that rule.”
Kamehameha 7 8 7 8—30
Hilo 20 22 15 9 —66
• Waimea 47, Hawaii Prep 42: Jeniah Banasihan scored 18 points to lead the Menehune.
Anna Juan led Ka Makani with 12 points.
Waimea 8 7 17 15 —47
HPA 12 8 7 15 —42
• Maui 59, Waiakea 50: Jernica Tamiera scored 17 points as the Sabers pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Shaila Apele’s 16 points led the Warriors, and Kaydee Rapozo chipped in with 14.
Maui 9 18 15 17 — 59
Waiakea 15 16 10 9 — 50
• Mililani 58, Keaau 18: Mikaela Limper led the way with 14 points for the Trojans, who raced to a 39-12 advantage at halftime.
Taylor Pocock tallied 10 points for the Cougars.
Mililani 18 21 15 14 — 58
Keaau 6 6 2 4 — 18
Kerrilynn Domondon hit a last-second shot in Pahala to lead Ka’u to a 36-35 victory against Kealakehe.
Domondon powered the Trojans with 15 points and Shyann Flores-Carvalho added nine.
The Waveriders were led by Sosefina Kalavi’s 12 points.
Kealakehe 4 8 14 9 — 35
Ka’u 9 5 9 13 — 36
• Pahoa 64, Laupahoehoe 15: Randi Berinobis came through with 19 points and Ranchell Bernobis’ 10 paced the Daggers.
Katie Requelman led the Seasiders with six points.
Laupahoehoe 0 7 3 5 — 15
Pahoa 24 18 8 14 — 64