VanKirk, HPA Win School’s First Hoops Title
There was an unlikely star shining on the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium hardwood Saturday night.
Tyler VanKirk, a 6-foot-3 senior that often times doesn’t play like someone with that kind of height, played arguably the best game of his high school career when it mattered. VanKirk dropped 25 points to lead HPA to a 73-64 victory over the Kohala Cowboys to win the KTA Super Stores / BIIF Division II Basketball Championship.
The win was the first league championship for Hawaii Prep, a team that forced its way onto the radar through early season wins over St. Joseph, Kalaheo, and Hilo.
“It’s the first one for the school, and we’ve been working really hard to get here. We’re really proud of the boys, and coach (Fred) Wawner and I feel really great about what they’re doing,” said co-head coach Dave Huntington.
VanKirk got going early and often, scoring 6 points each in the first, second, and third quarters. In that span, VanKirk went 6-for-6 from the free throw line. He scored 7 in the fourth quarter, although missing 3 of his 7 attempts from the foul line, finishing with 25.
“They were playing a 1-2-2 zone, and so the bottom baseline was open a little bit,” explained Huntington. “We did some screening, and we were able to get Tyler the ball there. He finished strong, hit his free throws, and it was great to get the ball in to him.”
His output was importpant, especially because guards Jovan Crnic and Dakota Berman, along with forward Kama DeSilva, were both battling foul trouble throughout the game. Berman was still able to find his shot, hitting his first three treys, and four overall, to score an impressive 21 points.
Kohala shot themselves into an early lead in the first quarter, behind hot shooting from junior Kala’i Kapeliela, who scored 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter. Kapeliela, like many of HPA’s top scorers, battled foul trouble as well, and was kept quiet in the middle of the game, before nailing a couple of treys in the fourth quarter to get Kohala right back in the game. Kapeliela eventually fouled out of the game.
Both HPA and Kohala will represent the BIIF in the eight-team Hawaiian Airlines / HHSAA Boys State Championships, beginning February 23rd, when both teams will play on the opening day. The tournament field and seedings will be announced on February 19th.
Kohala 14 12 16 22 – 64
HPA 16 20 17 20 – 73
Kohala – 25-66 FG (37.9%), 6-18 3PT (33.3%), 8-15 FT (53.3%)
HPA – 24-47 FG (51.1%), 5-11 3PT (45.5%), 19-31 FT (61.3%)
LEADING SCORERS: Kohala – Kala’i Kapeliela 18, Makani Kualii 16, Kealen Figueroa 10, Andrew Trump 6, Justin Agbayani 5, Christopher Roxburgh 5, Hana Carvalho. HPA – Tyler VanKirk 25, Dakota Berman 21, Kalan Camero 10, Jovan Crnic 6, Keanu Yamamoto 5, Kama DeSilva 4, Zane Gray 2.