By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
When the Hilo High School Holiday Prep Boys Basketball Classic tips off Thursday, Trinity Christian from Texas will have an overwhelming size advantage over the rest of the field.
The tall Tigers, from Cedar Hill, Texas, have 14 players on their roster including 6-foot-9 Albert Owens and 6-10, 265-pound Shaun Breland as well as 6-5 forward Cedar Stone.
“Trinity Christian is huge,” Hilo High athletic director Sondra Lundvick said. “But we’re absolutely excited to have them in the tournament and, I believe, it’s the first time we’ve ever had a team from Texas play in the Holiday Prep Classic.”
The Class 4A Tigers, under head coach Tim Ferguson, had a 5-4 record heading into a tournament last week and are averaging around 80 points per game.
“They have the two big guys and have an athletic team,” Lundvick said. “I think they’re going to be highly competitive in this tournament. They’re a private school that plays in the Dallas area, and there’s some top level basketball played there.”
Ferguson has four seniors on his squad — Owens, Breland, Isaiah Harwell and Garry Nolley. Owens and Harwell, a 5-10 point guard and shortest player on the team, are captains.
Most Big Island teams seldom have one or more players 6-4 or bigger, so facing the tall Tigers from Texas could be a challenge for their opponents.
Trinity Christian will play Keaau in the first round at 3:30 p.m. Thursday of the eight-team event at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium. In other games, it’s Waiakea vs. Pahoa at 5 p.m., Kamehameha vs. Lahainaluna at 6:30 p.m. and the host Vikings vs. Kohala at 8 p.m.
Trinity Christian and Lahainaluna, from Maui, are the only visiting teams, joining six Big Island teams in the three-day tournament.
“It’s a good field,” Lundvick said. “We got most of the top Big Island teams along with a team from Texas and one from Maui. I think it’s going to be a fun tournament with some quality competition.”
The Viking AD said there will also be slam-dunk and 3-point shooting contests with those finals scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, before the championship game.
Consolation games will be played at 3:30 and 5 p.m. Friday, followed by the semifinals at 6:30 and 8 p.m., respectively.
On Saturday, the seventh place contest is at 2 p.m., fifth place at 3:30 p.m., third place at 5 p.m., and final at 7 p.m.
Hilo High, under new coach Chuck Vallero, has a young team, led by seniors Jalen Carvalho and Austin Dante. Carvalho, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, averaged 25 points per game during last week’s Waiakea-Keaau preseason tournament when the Vikings went 3-1.
Waiakea, under coach Paul Lee, claimed the Waiakea/Keaau tourney title with a 4-0 record, beating defending Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Konawaena 48-38 in the final. Senior Lucas St. George led the Warriors with 21 points and sophomore Kahinu Alapai added 12.