Hilo came out so fast and energetic at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament, it got some much-needed rest.
Aliyah Pana scored 16 points to lead a balanced lineup and the Vikings had emptied their bench by the second quarter during a 62-34 dismantling of Leilehua in a Division I first-round girls basketball game at McKinley High in Honolulu.
“They came out focused and aggressive from the tip,” coach Ben Pana said.
Alexis Pana hit three 3-pointers en route to 14 points, Sharlei Graham-Bernisto added 10 and Shalyn Guthier had eight for the Vikings (12-2), who led 26-9 after the first quarter.
“Everybody got to play,” Ben Pana said. “Our starters have worked hard to get us to this point. They deserved a break.”
Though it won’t be a very long one.
Hilo, the Big Island Interscholastic Federation runner-up, will hit the court again today against Roosevelt in a 5 p.m. regional final at Neal Blaisdell Center. Pana said the Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Rough Riders (13-0) feature a similar style to the Vikings in that they’re aggressive, like to play full-court man defense and shoot the ball.
“Their bigs, they can score if they’re left open,” Pana said. “I like our chances if we make them handle the ball.”
With a win in HHSAA’s new regional format, Hilo would come home and prepare for trip back to Honolulu for the Final Four next weekend.
Hilo was ahead 37-21 at halftime Friday, and it was suffocating in the third quarter, outscoring the Mules 17-2.
Tiffany Reyner led Leilehua of the OIA with nine points, all on 3-pointers.
In all, nine players scored for the Vikings, and Pana said the effort erased any lingering doubts he might have had that Hilo might be slow to recover from a 46-45 loss to Konawaena last Saturday in the BIIF final.
“I told the girls we were not able to beat Konawaena,” he said, “but we played well enough to still get a shot at the state championship.”