Konawaena Goes Wire-to-Wire to Win DI Championship
It didn’t look as easy as it did during the regular season, but the Konawaena High School boys basketball team dug deep at the right time to prevent a blemish from ruining their season.
Twenty-four hours after coming from behind to edge Waiakea High School by one point in the semifinals, the Wildcats outlasted Kamehameha-Hawai`i 68-55 to win the KTA Super Stores / Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I Championship.
The West’s top seed and lone undefeated team in the league, according to Ka`u athletic director Kalei Namohala, will be seeded fourth in the Hawaiian Airlines / Hawaii High School Athletic Association Boys Basketball Championships, beginning Wednesday at both McKinley and Moanalua High Schools. Namohala is the BIIF’s basketball coordinator.
Both teams traded baskets throughout the first half, with Kamehameha-Hawai`i holding the lead after the first quarter thanks to a Shaun Kagawa three-pointer in the left corner as the buzzer sounded. Kagawa’s trey added to Ilikai Calip’s seven first quarter points that gave the Warriors a 17-15 lead after the opening period.
Konawaena (27-3, 12-0 BIIF) took a 34-32 lead at the half, fueled by strong second quarter efforts from Kenan Gaspar and Jonah Bredeson. Gaspar, following seven points in the game’s first eight minutes, got in his groove in the next eight minutes. He shot 4-for-5 from the field, including one of his three made shots from outside the arc, to score nine points.
Bredeson, a fearless slashing guard, added 10 points in the quarter, also shooting 4-for-5, and made a free throw to complete a three point play. The duo scored all of Konawaena’s second quarter points and gave the slight momentum edge to the West’s top seed going into the locker room.
Gaspar continued his hot scoring night with another nine points in the third quarter en route to a 27 point performance. The senior guard shot 9-for-13 from the field, a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, and 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. He also grabbed four rebounds. Konawaena opened a 12 points lead after the third quarter, 55-43, as Kamehameha-Hawai`i failed to hit a three pointer in the third quarter, going 4-for-14 in the period.
The drought from distance continued for the Warriors, as they failed to hit a deep field goal in the fourth quarter, but the turnovers piled up against them, and Konawaena capitalized with solid transition basketball. The Warriors, as Konawaena head coach Donny Awa expected going into the game, seemed to run out of energy toward the game’s finish line.
Awa said that he felt that energy would be a key factor in the game, considering that Kamehameha-Hawai`i used everyone necessary to hold off Hilo. Awa added that his team had the advantage in that area, saying that “the fact that I had three or four who didn’t play major minutes that I could count on tonight was going to be a luxury that maybe Kamehameha didn’t have.”
“I thought their legs might be a factor because they are a three point shooting team,” explained Awa. “I don’t think they shot as well in the second half.”
Kamehameha-Hawai`i finishes the season with a 16-12 overall record and 10-5 mark in the BIIF. The Warriors got 23 points from junior sharp-shooter Blaine-Allen Manliguis, which included a pair of second quarter treys. Kagawa, who has verbally committed to Army, added 14 points, nine in the second half, and Calip dropped 10 points.
The third-seed out of East Hawai`i will wait for Sunday’s bracket announcement to find out who they will play in Wednesday’s first round game.
Kamehameha-Hawai`i 17 15 11 12 – 55
Konawaena 15 19 21 13 – 68