By J.R. De GROOTE
Stephens Media Hawaii
WAIMEA — In front of a rowdy home crowd at Castle Gymnasium, Hawaii Prep downed Waiakea 69-60 behind 16 points from junior point guard Justas Gecas to remain perfect in the young Big Island Interscholastic Federation season.
“I was proud of our guys to find a way to win,” said co-head coach Fred Wawner. “We are lucky we have such a great group of kids that are always excited to play.”
HPA came out of the gates running with a balanced offensive attack, scoring 21 points in the first quarter with contributions from seven different players.
“These guys, they work really hard, so they deserve to get on the floor,” Wawner said. “They really battle in practice, so when they get on the floor they are ready to go.”
HPA held a distinct size advantage over Waiakea — as it likely will in every game this year, boasting eight players over 6-foot. However, the Warriors were not ready to concede the battle in the paint — senior forward Lucas St. George made sure of that.
St. George made the HPA big men work hard for points and was the Warriors powerhouse on offense, driving to the rim, drawing fouls and converting at the line.
“We had a hard time stopping (St. George) all night,” Wawner said. “It was not as much foul trouble as it was we just did not have an answer, no matter who we put on him.
“We ended up putting a guard on him, and I think he did the best job. That opened up opportunities for us to get some easy transition baskets. We were reeling for a little while, but fought back.”
St. George kept Waiakea within striking distance for the majority of the first half, but after a relatively slow start HPA standout Kalan Camero struck.
With the first half winding down and HPA clinging to a three-point lead, Camaro found himself in a familiar situation as the seconds ticked off — with the ball in his hands. With the pressure on, the senior delivered the highlight play of the night, dropping a defender to the floor with a quick crossover and sinking a 3-pointer — just his third basket of the game.
“That was a big shot,” Wawner said. “He looked to us for a play and we didn’t have much, so he bailed us out. He’s a senior so this is his year. The guys look to him to take those big shots. He doesn’t have to make them, but he’s got our confidence to take them.”
Camero finished the game with 14 points.
Waiakea remained steady in the three quarters offensively — scoring 13 points in each of the first three quarters — and managed to contain the HPA offense by a change in strategy.
“It started out fast for us and slowed down quick,” Wawner said. “They went to a zone and we had a hard time managing that.”
It was not until the fourth quarter that Ka Makani found their offensive game again, scoring 25 points — two oints more than the team’s second- and third-quarter output combined.
St. George finished the game as the Warriors leading scorer with 23 points, and Kahinu Alapai added 14.
David Ovbagbedia and Nicky Palleschi were the other players scoring in double-digits for Ka Makani, combining for 25 points.
Wai. —13 13 13 21 60
HPA —21 11 12 25 69
Hilo 73, St. Joseph 29: Jalen Carvalho scored 25 points at Afook Chinen-Civic Auditorium, Austin Dante added 19 and Collin Lodivero had 10 as the Vikings (2-1) eased to their second straight victory.
Edgar Barclay led the Cardinals (0-2) with nine.
St. Joe 13 8 4 4 —29
Hilo 24 19 21 9—73
Keaau 40, Ka’u 29: Edgar Ventura’s 14 points in Keaau helped the host Cougars (1-2) to their first victory of the season.
Larry-Dan Al-Navarro scored 13 points for the Trojans (0-3), who trailed 27-12 at halftime
Keaau won the JV game 38-34.
Keaau 14 13 8 5 —40
Ka’u 4 6 7 12—29
Kohala 72, Pahoa 54: Mikala Jordan scored 17 points in Kapaau as the unbeaten Cowboys pulled away in the fourth quarter for a key Division II victory.
Ryan Caravalho and Kealen Figueroa each added 16 points for Kohala (3-0).
Tolby Saito led the Daggers (0-3) with 20 points and Keinan Agonias posted 19.
Pahoa won the JV game 49-26.
Pahoa 15 20 11 8—54
Kohala 17 23 12 20—72
Kamehameha 76, Honokaa 64: Pukana Vincent led three Warriors in double figures with 22 points as Kamehameha kept the Dragons winless.
Bayley Manliguis scored 20 points for the Warriors (2-1) and Rylan Kiko added 10. Trailing by three after the first quarter, Kamehameha started to pick up steam and led 37-29 at halftime.
Shyrome Batin led all scorers with 24 points for the Dragons (0-3), and Cjay Carvalho chipped in with 22.
Hon 12 17 15 20 —64
Kam 9 28 17 22—76