By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Waiakea junior Cody Kojima is enjoying his chance to shine in the absence of injured point guard Bryson Ita and putting in productive minutes at the same time.
Kojima was part of a balanced scoring attack that helped the Warriors thump Pahoa 73-49 in the first round of the Hilo High School Holiday Prep Boys Basketball Classic on Thursday at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.
The 5-foot-6 guard had 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while Lucas St. George had a game-high 19 points to lead the Warriors, who shot 49 percent (28 of 57) from the floor. Freshman Calvin Mattos added 13 points and Maikai Gahan had 10 points.
Tolby Saito attacked gaps, pinned fouls on his defenders and sank three 3s for a game-high 26 points to lead the Daggers, who converted 38 percent (16 of 42) from the field. The 5-9 junior point guard made 9 of 13 free throws.
One play near the end of the third quarter showed Saito’s savvy court sense. He was at the top of the key, dribbled and got his defender off-balanced. He maintained his dribble, leaned in, and hoisted a 3-pointer that missed, but he got the foul call.
Saito drained all three free throws. That was five in a row. But Waiakea still sat on a comfortable 53-38 with the fourth quarter around the corner.
He would have had about a dozen assists if his teammates didn’t doink so many post entry passes. Besides finishing under the basket, Pahoa’s other problem was not rebounding enough, a reason for the shot disparity.
Then there were the turnovers. Waiakea scored 19 points off Pahoa’s 22 turnovers. The Daggers got just two points off the Warriors’ 12 giveaways.
The Warriors opened with a 15-0 run, sparked by Gahan’s two treys and one by Kojima, who has started in all five preseason games. Waiakea is 5-0, winning the 16-team Waiakea/Keaau Invitational last week.
“It feels good to start,” Kojima said. “I’d get nervous but you get used to it. I had a decent amount of playing time last year. I was second string. The best feeling is just being out there and playing basketball.
“I grew up playing baseball and basketball, but when I got to high school I stopped baseball. Basketball is faster and more up-tempo.”
The Warriors scored in a variety of ways, getting transition baskets, working the ball inside and shooting open long-range bombs.
Mattos beat the defense down the court for three layups. When Pahoa went to a zone, the athletic 6-3 St. George jump-stopped and freed himself for clean looks. He, too, displayed court smarts.
In the second quarter, St. George saw Pahoa telegraph a pass at the top of the key, poked the ball away and raced in for a dunk. That made it 32-12 with 3:12 remaining until halftime.
“I liked that we controlled the pace of the game and got what we wanted,” Kojima said. “We went inside or outside for our shot , and played as a team. I was looking to get my teammates open shots inside and out. If I had a shot, I’d take a shot.”
Waiakea 24 12 17 20 — 73
Pahoa 7 10 21 11 — 49
• Trinity (Texas) Christian 69, Keaau 17: The Tigers, from Cedar Hills, arrived in Hilo averaging 80 points per game while relying on several tall players, and their length bothered the Cougars.
Albert Owens, a 6-9 post, scored 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, Isaiah Hartwell had 13, nailing three treys, and Jon Cole, a 5-10 guard, added 10 points for Trinity Christian, which led 36-9 at halftime.
Isiah Segobia scored six points to lead the Cougars.
Keaau plays Pahoa at 3:30 p.m. today in consolation action. Trinity, a Class 4A private school, faces Waiakea at 6:30 p.m. in the following game.
Keaau 6 3 5 3 — 17
Trinity 16 20 19 12 — 69
• Lahainaluna 57, Kamehameha-Hawaii 30: Cryus Kama scored 14 points, Nick Vierra added 12 and Ryan Medera added 11 as the Lunas of the Maui Interscholastic League suffocated the BIIF Warriors.
Micah Carter had seven points for Kamehameha.
Lahaina. 12 14 14 17 —57
KS-Hawaii 5 11 7 7—30
• Hilo 64, Kohala 53: Jalen Carvalho scored a game-high 24 points and the Vikings also got Austin Dante’s 18 and EJ Narido’s 13 to advance to face Lahainaluna at 8 p.m. today in the semifinals.
Mikala Jordan scored 20 points and Ryan Caravalho added 11 for the Cowboys, who face Kamehameha at 5 p.m. today.
Kohala 4 14 14 21 —53
Hilo 18 14 17 15—64
David Pillette netted a hat trick in Pahala as Ka‘u defeated Parker 3-2 for its first victory this season in Big Island Interscholastic Federation boys soccer.
Hunter Weigle and Juan Roca scored for the Bulls (0-3.)