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Experience Pushes Waiakea to Comeback Win over Hilo

January 18, 2015, 3:45 PM HST
* Updated January 18, 3:48 PM
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There are certain things that coaches at any level can’t teach, including experience.

On Saturday night, an experienced core of players helped the Waiakea High School boys basketball team overcome a gutsy challenge from a young, rebuilding Hilo High squad that was looking for its biggest win in its new on-campus gymnasium.

Waiakea defeated Hilo 53-43 at the Hilo High Gymnasium to remain perfect in Big Island Interscholastic Federation play, improving to 5-0 and remaining at the top of the Division I standings.

“These guys played well. They took it to us. We’re lucky we came out with this win,” said Waiakea coach Paul Lee, a teacher at Hilo High School. “They outplayed us for most of the game except for the fourth quarter.”

A back-and-fourth third quarter ended with the young Vikings, under first-year coach Darryl Yagi, leading 33-31 when junior EJ Narido drained a three-pointer about 24-feet away from the right side of the court as time expired.

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Waiakea (14-5 overall, 5-0 BIIF) relied on senior Cody Kojima and sophomore Calvin Mattos to push back the fearless Vikings. Kojima, a senior guard who Lee describes as one of his smartest players, scored nine of his game-high 17 points in the fourth quarter, while Mattos poured in eight of his 13 points in the final stanza. All of his points came in the second half.

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“Cody is clutch for us,” said Lee. “He just gets everybody settled, calms everybody down, and it’s hard to rattle him now. He’s been on the varsity for four years, and he’s money, as you saw at the free throw line.”

Kojima went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe, all in the game’s final quarter. He also kept his cool at the beginning of the game, draining a pair of open treys in the first quarter to help guide the Warriors to an 11-6 first quarter lead.

Foul trouble had a heavy impact on the Warriors in the second quarter. Mattos picked up two quick fouls in the period and was forced to miss a large chunk of time. Additionally, senior Mark Pacris got his third foul in the second quarter, forcing him to miss a lot of action. For a team that already came in shorthanded with the losses of junior guards Noah Ferreira and Cameron Carvalho-Chinen, it forced Waiakea to become young and tested its depth.

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Hilo (5-12, 1-4) took advantage, winning the battle of the boards and ramping up its aggressiveness to the basket. At halftime, Hilo held a 17-13 lead, out-rebounding the Warriors 19-8 and getting to the free throw line, something Waiakea hadn’t done the entire half. Sophomore Lawrence Padasdao joined Narido in carving lanes to the basket. Padasdao scored five of his team-high 11 points in the second quarter, hitting three free-throws, and Narido added a pair of baskets.

Padasdao scored six more in the third quarter, but senior Jordan Caoagdan provided a big lift, hitting a pair of transition lay-ups, including one that led to a three-point play, to keep the game in play.

Pacris and Mattos didn’t commit a foul in the second half. Both scored five points apiece in the third quarter.

“In the third quarter, we played pretty decent, but the hard part was that anytime we took the lead, we let them score right away for four or five possessions in a row,” Lee explained. “In the fourth quarter, we at least started to make some free throws and we got some stops.

Pacris scored 11 points. Louie Ondo added six for Waiakea.

Narido scored nine points for Hilo, while freshman Isaac Liu dropped eight and Caoagdan added seven. Josh Breitbarth contributed six points and 11 rebounds.

With the loss, coupled with Kea’au’s overtime win over Honoka’a, Hilo sits by itself in last place in the Division I standings. The top four teams in Division I advance to the league semifinals next month.

Waiakea 11 2 18 22 – 53

Hilo 6 11 16 10 – 43

Saturday’s BIIF boys basketball scores

Waiakea 53, Hilo 43

St. Joseph 37, Konawaena 33

Hawai’I Preparatory Academy 42, Kamehameha-Hawai’I 33

Kea’au 78, Honoka’a 75 (OT)

Pahoa 77, Ka’u 37

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