By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
KEAAU — Hilo’s depth and ability to play shutdown defense, no matter who’s on the floor, seized the stage on Kamehameha’s Senior Night, spoiling the last home game for Casey Poe.
The Vikings thumped the Warriors 70-44 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation girls basketball game Friday night at Koai‘a Gym, the last time at home for Poe, her team’s only senior.
Poe had 12 points while Riana Arima added 10 for the Division II Warriors (6-3), who struggled with their shooting all night long, converting 27 percent (6 of 22) in the first half from the floor.
Despite the disappointment of the loss, Poe has been a big part of the Kamehameha basketball program’s success. The reigning BIIF Division II Player of the Year has three league titles under her belt.
Poe can take comfort that the fun part of the season — the four-team playoffs — is just around the corner, and that she helped establish a solid nucleus built for more championship runs. Arima, Makamae Gabriel (5 points) and Kiera Kua-Ramirez (7 points) are juniors while the other starter is freshman sharpshooter Tiana Ramelb, who went scoreless.
Shalyn Guthier scored 13 points and Sharlei Graham-Bernisto had 12 for the Division I Vikings (7-1), who made 39 percent (11 of 28) from the field to grab a 33-24 halftime lead.
The second half got a bit lopsided, and Hilo hit the Warriors with an avalanche of layups in transition, running and scoring to grab a 46-31 cushion with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
To kick off the second half, Hilo senior Aliyah Pana found a seam, and dribbled through the heart of the defense for a layup. A few plays later, Guthier buried a 3-pointer, and Alexis Pana and Guthier each scored layups.
After Caitlin Poe stopped that mini-run with a 3-pointer, the Vikings rebounded and Guthier streaked down the court for another layup after a made basket, scorching Kamehameha’s transition defense.
It was the Warriors who came out with more energy, at least right from the start, to take a 7-2 lead, but that quickly disappeared when Hilo started to make the extra pass and shot the ball much better.
And when the Viking starters got in early foul trouble, the bench stepped up. Amber Vaughn had eight points, Kaily Harris added five points and Alyssa Perreira contributed four points.
But what Hilo coach Ben Pana liked best was his defensive effort, especially from Cierra Kelii, who scored one point, a 5-foot-5 sophomore guard.
“Cierra is defensive-minded. She’s able to give whoever she’s matched against fits,” he said. “She’s undersized, but she hustles and has heart. That was key for us tonight.
“Our reserves stepped up when our starters got into foul trouble. When we put our starters back in the game, it was good to see them make adjustments. They were still aggressive, but moved their feet on defense.”
In the JV, Hilo won 61-6.
Hilo 20 13 18 19 — 70
Kamehameha 14 10 7 13 — 44
Konawaena 69, Kohala 30: Chanelle Molina and Ihi Victor each scored 20 points in Kealakekua as the Wildcats coasted to their 64th straight league victory.
With two regular-season games remaining — Senior night is Monday against Keaau — Konawaena (9-0) is a win away from clinching the top seed in the BIIF Division I tournament and a berth at the Hawaii High School Athletic Association tournament.
Jenni Fong and Hauoli Sproat-Lancaster each managed seven points for the Cowgirls, who already have secured a spot in the four-team Division II league playoffs. Kohala (6-2) entered the game with only one loss, but Friday night marked the beginning of a brutal season-ending stretch. The Cowgirls still have home games left with Kamehameha and Honokaa, sandwiched around a trip to Hilo.
Kohala 7 8 5 10—30
Konawaena 14 20 23 12—69
Hawaii Prep 47, Keaau 19: Ula Brostek led the way with 15 points and Tiana Bertelmann-Tabac posted 10 in Waimea to help Ka Makani bolster their playoff prospects.
HPA (4-5) poured it on during a prolific 23-point fourth quarter that nearly doubled its total. With two games remaining in the regular season, fourth-place Ka Makani own a two-game lead over Pahoa for the final spot in the Division II playoffs.
Taylor Pocock scored 14 points for the Cougars (4-5), which fell into fourth place in Division I but reached the playoffs Friday when Kealaklehe lost to Ka’u.
Keaau 3 5 4 7 —19
Hawaii Prep 8 5 11 23—47
Honokaa 58, Pahoa 11: Chancis Fernandez’s 18 points at Honokaa Armory paced the Dragons, who hold the inside track on the top seed at the BIIF Division II tournament.
Honokaa (8-1) never looked back after racing to a 23-3 first-quarter lead, getting a boost from Hunter Liftee (12 points).
Macey Mokuhalii and Erleen Oguma led the Daggers (2-7) with four points apiece.
Honokaa won the JV game 63-12.
Pahoa 3 4 4 0 — 11
Honokaa 23 15 11 9—58
Waiakea 48, Laupahoehoe 6: Kryssie Okinaka (13 points) and Shaila Apele (10) each reached double-figures and the visiting Warriors (5-4) locked down a Division I playoff spot and a likely third seed.
Shyla Anderson had four points for the Seasiders (0-9).
Ka’u 57, Kealakehe 40: Denisha Navarro came through with a game-high 21 points on the road and the Trojans (1-8) captured their first victory of the season.
Ashlyn Cabatbat scored 13 points for the Waveriders (1-8), who were eliminated from playoff contention in Division I.
Kealakehe won the JV game 42-36.
Ka’u 12 17 17 11—57
Kealakehe 8 10 9 13 —40