By CLINT ZAVODNY
Stephens Media Hawaii
KEALAKEKUA – Konawaena rode solid fourth-quarter performances by Chase Takaki and Brandon Awa to escape with a closer-than-expected 65-59 victory over Hilo in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I basketball game Wednesday night at Onizuka Gymnasium.
“The first half we were rushing shots,” said Takaki, who finished with 19 points, including five clutch free throws down the stretch. “We weren’t getting our offense into the position we wanted, we were getting forced into a lot of jump shots. But then we started getting into our sets, passing the ball around, finding the mismatch and getting open shots. Slowing things down, playing our game.”
Awa finished the night with 21 points and six steals and Jonah Bredeson added another 15 points as the defending champion Wildcats improved to 4-0 on the season.
Hilo went into halftime with a four-point lead, and the game was still tied in the fourth quarter. Senior guard Jalen Carvalho led the Vikings (2-2) with 26 points — including 13 in the first quarter — and Austin Dante finished with 19.
Hilo increased its cushion to six after a basket by EJ Narido to start the second half, and still led by five with just under three minutes to play in the third quarter, but the Wildcats slowly began clawing their way back.
Bredeson served up a beautiful assist to Cameron Howes underneath, followed by a strong drive to the basket by Awa. Then Awa came up with a steal and assist to Bredeson, capped off with a big rebound and dish to Howes that put Konawaena up 45-42.
However, the Vikings were persistent and failed to go away, and Hilo tied the game to start the fourth quarter after Carvalho made three free throws after he was fouled on a 3-point shot.
But that’s when Awa really got hot, hitting a long 3-pointer to provide a spark and then driving to the basket on one possession after another. By the time Awa finally slowed down, Konawaena was up by six and all Hilo could do was foul and watch Takaki convert at the line.
“It was a little too exciting,” Konawaena coach Donny Awa said. “We’ve got to put a whole game together. We looked really good in spurts, but we looked really bad for some plays too. Mental errors.”
Both teams came out of the gate firing, but it was Carvalho who really made a statement in the first quarter. The senior connected on three 3-pointers in the first eight minutes and would have had more had his toe not been on the line.
Carvalho sank a jumper to start the second quarter, then stole the ball on the other end of the court and found Dante underneath, giving Hilo a 23-18 lead. Konawaena finally broke the drought with a long jump shot by Bredeson, and Awa stole the ball and found Takaki under the basket to tie the game at 23 apiece with 4:16 left. But Dante exploded for three jumpers just before half to help send the Vikings into the locker room with a 29-25 lead at the break.
Konawaena won the JV game 44-30.
Hilo 19 10 13 17– 59
Konawaena 18 7 20 20– 65