Sports

Defense Wills #8 Hilo to Tough Victory Over Honoka`a

January 21, 2014, 9:55 AM HST
* Updated January 21, 9:58 AM
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Adjustments are an important part of the game in any sport, especially in basketball.

Hilo girls basketball coach Ben Pana made the most important adjustment coming out of the locker room at halftime Monday against the Dragons. Sensing that the pace of the game was not in his team’s favor, he unleashed a zone defense that cut down passing lanes and forced turnovers, helping the Vikings pull away with a 54-42 victory at Kawananakoa Gym in Keaukaha.

Hilo, ranked eighth in the Star-Advertiser Top 10 girls basketball poll, was forced to play a half-court style game as the visiting Dragons were being methodical on offense. That allowed for a relatively low scoring first half and a chance for Honoka`a to pull an upset on its Division I opponent.

The defensive adjustment by Pana was critical, forcing eight third quarter turnovers and limiting the Dragons to just 3-for-9 shooting in the quarter to extend the third quarter lead to 38-32. Hilo also turned up its full court defense to put Honoka`a on edge.

Honoka`a (20-10 overall, 8-2 Big Island Interscholastic Federation) started to figure out Hilo’s zone defense with time winding down in the fourth quarter, but by that time, the Vikings had opened up a double-digit lead and was on its away to surviving the tough matchup.

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Basketball fans were silent midway through the first quarter when Hilo sophomore Alexis Pana went down with a right ankle injury. Last year’s East Hawai`i first-team selection limped off the floor and put little weight on the ankle. At halftime, she emerged from the locker room and was fully suited up, putting her right thumb up as she went through warmup drills to indicate that she would be on the floor again. After sitting the first few minutes of the third quarter, she returned, showing a slight limp but keeping the same aggressive style of play on both ends of the floor. She finished with three points and four rebounds.

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The Dragons were without senior post player Hunter Liftee and sophomore guard Kizzah Maltezo, but got an energetic lift from Shemika Frazier, who darted through defensive pressure and controlled the basketball on the offensive end. Despite scoring seven first half points, Hilo’s zone eliminated her shooting threat and kept her from unleashing her energy late in the game. The senior finished with 10 points.

Chancis Fernandez also scored 10 points while grabbing eight rebounds for the Dragons. Eliyah Fernandez added nine points and 11 rebounds. Honoka`a out-rebounded Hilo 33-18 for the game.

Aliyah Pana led the Vikings with 14 points while Sharlei Graham-Bernisto and Shalyn Guthier each contributed 13. The Vikings won despite shooting 6-for-19 from the free throw line.

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Honoka`a 14 11 7 10 – 42

Hilo 20 8 10 16 – 54

Monday’s BIIF girls basketball scores

Waiakea 65, Ka`u 45

Hawai`i Preparatory Academy 47, Laupahoehoe 13

Kamehameha-Hawai`i 78, Kohala 59

Konawaena 61, Kea`au 22

Pahoa 50, Kealakehe 35

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