HPA Outlasts Pahoa To Earn Division II Title
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by Josh Pacheco
The best three point shooter that no one talks about in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation is no longer a secret.
Hawai`i Preparatory Academy junior Buck Thomas showed over 1,000 fans just how good of a shooter he is, draining three treys on Friday afternoon and four in a row Saturday as Ka Makani pulled away from Pahoa High School to secure the KTA Super Stores / BIIF Division II Basketball Championship. The final score was 64-39.
Thomas opened the game by hitting all three of his shots from outside the arc in the first quarter. His treys early were key in hanging with the gutsy Daggers, who, without Nick Fisher, stayed close with Ka Makani throughout the first half.
“When he (Thomas) scores the ball, we are a much better team,” said HPA co-head coach Fred Wawner. “The times where we haven’t been successful, it’s been games where we haven’t had points from that position, so that really took some pressure off.”
Fisher, who scored 22 points in Friday’s semifinal win over Kohala, was hospitalized Friday night when cramps in his left leg didn’t leave his body. He was kept in the hospital for another night, meaning that Pahoa’s top scorer would miss the team’s championship contest.
Without Fisher, Pahoa had to rely on sophomore Tolby Saito and senior Randin Napiahi to pick up the slack. Saito did his part in the first quarter, scoring seven points on 2-for-5 shooting and 2-2 from the free throw line, while Napeahi scored all 10 of his points in the first half.
“I felt like Pahoa was beating us to all the hustle plays,” Wawner explained of his opponent’s good start.
Hawai`i Prep (11-10, 8-4 BIIF) led 29-23 at the halftime break and only got stronger in the second half as guard Jovan Crnic found his rhythm. Crnic picked up two first quarter fouls and failed to score in the first half. He also finished the first half on the bench after taking a hard landing on the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium floor.
Crnic blocked a shot in transition and landed hard on the pine. He got back on the floor to start the second half and played his usual style of physical, aggressive basketball. He scored nine of his 11 points in the third quarter to aid HPA in opening up a 20 point lead in the period.
“We had some really good possessions both on the offensive and the defensive end there in the third quarter,” said Wawner. “It gave us the space we needed to run our stuff and feel better about ourselves.”
Meanwhile, Pahoa’s lack of depth started to hurt them, causing eight second half turnovers and a 2-for-11 third quarter from the field. The Dragons trailed 50-30 after three quarters and could not charge back into the game in the final period, ultimately falling by 25 points.
In the losing effort, Pahoa got 22 points from Saito on 8-for-20 shooting. He and Napeahi combined for 32 of the team’s 39 points scored. The Daggers end BIIF play with a league record of 8-6 and overall 14-9 mark.
Kalan Camero added 13 points on the night for Ka Makani, who will be seeded fourth in the eight-team Hawaiian Airlines / Hawaii High School Athletic Association Boys Basketball Championships.
Hawai`i Prep 15 14 21 14 – 64
Pahoa 13 10 7 9 – 39