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Konawaena Survives Honoka’a Scare

January 24, 2015, 6:37 PM HST
* Updated January 24, 6:42 PM
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You can’t teach experience, but you can certainly gain it under the burning heat of a close game on the road.

Konawaena watched a 17-point fourth quarter lead slither down to just two before hanging on for a 61-59 victory over Honoka’a at the Honoka’a Armory Friday night.

The Wildcats led 52-35 after three quarters, but watched the lead slowly wither away thanks to the sharp-shooting Shyrome Batin, who scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a trio of three-pointers, to push the Dragons back in the game.

Konawaena (11-8 overall, 3-4 Big Island Interscholastic Federation) showed its youth in the final minutes, failing to close the game out from the free throw line. The Wildcats missed five in a row with under a minute left to leave the door open for Honoka’a. Konawaena shot 5-for-13 from the foul line in the final quarter and 11-for-23 for the game.

That gave Honoka’a two chances to win the game in the final 20 seconds. Batin missed a long three at the left wing with 20 seconds to go. Two possessions later, Kelvin Falk missed a 30-foot three pointer wide right to seal the victory for Konawaena.

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“They played hard,” said Konawaena coach Donny Awa of his team following the close finish. “They are trying to do what we ask. It was nice to get away with a win, because our other three games were just like this.”

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Konawaena had lost those three games prior to Friday night by a combined 14 points. Those losses came at the hands of Kamehameha-Hawai’i, St. Joseph, and Waiakea.

Konawaena blazed a fast pace to start the game, something Awa said that his team is comfortable doing. The Wildcats opened a 23-7 lead after the first quarter, thanks to eight first quarter points from Kevin Medeiros and 10 opening-period turnovers from the Dragons.

Things came to a grinding halt in the second quarter. The period started with a technical foul on Konawaena for inserting a player into the game with a jersey number that was different than what was given to the scorers table. After the technical free throws, the officials struggled to determine who should get the ball after the shots and whether the possession arrow came into play.

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A few minutes later, Konawaena freshman Paka Cacoulidis was given a technical foul after demonstratively arguing a foul called against him. As the freshman continued to complain about the call, Batin was given a technical for taunting.

There was mass confusion initially over who the second technical was given to, since both players were in the same area. Honoka’a coach Jayme Carvalho argued that Cacoulidis had been given two technical fouls, but the officials disagreed.

Konawaena was still able to hold Honoka’a at arms-length in the quarter. The Wildcats played disciplined basketball throughout the first half, turning the ball over just five times in the half and seven in the game.

“We were better with the ball when we were running with it,” Awa said. “We probably had those turnovers when we were trying to slow it down and set up.”

Freshman Hauoli Akau was active in the third quarter, scoring six of his team-high 16 points in the period. Along with fellow rookie Austin Ewing’s five points in the period, the Wildcats overcame an eight-point quarter from Honoka’a guard Wesley Salboro, who hit a pair of threes as part of a 12 point night.

“He’s a good shooter, he works hard, and his job is to score,” Awa explained. “He runs the floor, so he gets those points in transition. He gets rebound putbacks, and moves well without the ball.”

Ewing and Kupono Kane each scored 11 points to compliment Akau’s night. Senior Kevin Medeiros added 10 points to keep the Wildcats in position for a spot in the four-team BIIF tournament next month.

“I think it’s a big step for us, and I think we gotta get some wins now,” Awa said after the game. “This is a game I think we should’ve won, so we gotta get these wins just to make sure we make it to the fourth spot in the playoffs, or maybe even higher, depending on what happens.”

Honoka’a (7-15, 2-4) lost for the third consecutive time. Jonathan Charbonneau scored 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds in a losing effort for the Dragons.

Konawaena 23 8 21 9 – 61

Honoka’a 7 12 16 24 – 59

Friday’s BIIF scoreboard

Konawaena 61, Honoka’a 59

Waiakea 53, Kea’au 49

Pahoa 61, Hilo 42

Hawai’i Preparatory Academy 55, Kealakehe 48

Kohala 69, Ka’u 34

Kamehameha-Hawai’i 57, St. Joseph 29

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