Tenacious Defense Pushes Hilo Past Honoka’a
Hilo High School girls basketball coach Ben Pana was happy to walk out of the Honoka’a Armory, a gym he describes as a difficult environment to play in, with a 56-40 win over Honoka’a Tuesday night.
That win may have come at a steep price.
Senior forward Chailey Cabalis, an energetic and versatile contributor to the Vikings’ success over the past two seasons, suffered a right leg injury early in the second quarter. She drove to the basket against two Honoka’a players when lost her balance and the basketball. She was helped off the court and would not return to the game.
Before the fourth quarter started, she had returned to the bench in crutches and had her right leg protected.
Pana chose to look at the injury situation as a positive, getting quality minutes for others off of the bench. “I’m glad we got to let everybody play, and with Chailey’s injury…it was a chance for the kids to step up and show what they learned over the preseason and in practices.”
That means increased playing time for Cierra Kelii, who started the second half in Cabalis’ place. She scored seven points, all in the fourth quarter, to lead a bench that scored 17 on the evening. Sydnee Yokota added six points.
Honoka’a (1-11 overall, 1-1 BIIF) shot itself in the foot for much of the first half, turning the ball over 18 times in the first 16 minutes, including 11 giveaways in the opening quarter. The Dragons didn’t shoot well during that stretch either, going 5-for-20 in the first half. A second quarter bench effort from Markell Marquez, scoring five points and grabbing five boards in the quarter, kept the Dragons holding on to a chance, down 28-16 at halftime.
Marquez led Honoka’a with 10 points and nine rebounds for the game.
Hilo (8-3, 2-0) started to settle itself down after a topsy-turvy first quarter that saw a combined 17 turnovers between the two teams.
“I think we started to settle down in the second quarter,” Pana explained. “In between quarters, we got to talk to the kids. We were just trying to settle them down. We felt that they were a little over-aggressive, trying to put the game away early, but against a good club like Honoka’a, it’s a steady pace. You gotta dictate the tempo of the game, which we never really did in the first quarter.”
In the second half, ball control and an intense defense helped the Vikings push its lead to as much as 25 points.
“The staff and I told [the team] that we had to make a few adjustments, mostly it was on the defensive end of the ball,” Pana explained. “We started playing how we are known to be playing defensively: aggressive and rotating quickly,”
Sharlei Graham-Bernisto led Hilo with 14 points and five steals. She started the game hitting her first four shots from the field. Alexis Pana added 10 points, with seven coming in the second half.
Hilo 18 10 15 13 – 56
Honoka’a 7 5 7 21 – 40
Hilo 56, Honoka’a 40
Kamehameha-Hawai’i 82, Kohala 48
Kealakehe 51, Pahoa 34
Konawaena 77, Kea’au 18
Waiakea 51, Ka’u 32
Hawai’i Prep 61, Laupahoehoe 38