Pahoa Survives Blistering Pace to Win DII League Crown
Kohala handed Pahoa its first league loss on Jan. 29. The tables were turned in the game that mattered more on Saturday night.
Behind a hot-shooting first half from Keinan Agonias and confident free throw shooting down the stretch, Pahoa knocked off the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II regular season champion Kohala Cowboys 75-62 in the KTA Stores/BIIF Division II Boys Basketball Championship at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.
Kohala (16-4 overall, 12-1 BIIF) got out to a 13-5 start in the first four minutes of the game, book-ended by three-point makes by Justin Agbayani. Kealan Figueroa added five points during that stretch.
Keinan Agonias played a key part in changing Pahoa’s fortunes not long after. He drained a three at the top of the arc to get the Daggers with five at 13-8. A short time later, Agonias hit another one from the same spot, cutting the Cowboys’ lead to 15-11 with 1:50 to play in the opening quarter.
“I was feeling pumped,” Agonias said. “That’s the way we play. When we play too hyped, we get too many fouls like we did in the first game. This game, we just came here. We had to do what we had to do to win. We didn’t want to get too amped. We just wanted to stay calm and finish this game.”
Agonias would not miss for the entire half. He shot 7-for-7 from the field, 4-for-4 from outside the arc, and 3-for-3 at the charity stripe for a 21-point effort over the game’s first 16 minutes. He would finish with a game-high 28.
“After that first shot, I felt in the zone already,” Agonias said.
Pahoa (24-2, 13-1) played much of the first half in major foul trouble. Guard Joel Rosario Jr. picked up three fouls in the first quarter and Agnoias and Tolby Saito also got three fouls in the first half.
The foul trouble forced Pahoa coach Marc Saito to dig a little deeper into his bench, calling on William Stinnett and Noa Kaleiwahea to enter the championship contest. At halftime, Saito also called on some of his junior varsity players to put on a jersey and get ready for potential playing time.
Pahoa took the lead late in the second quarter off of a pair of free throws by Kili Oliveira to lead 28-27 with 2:19 remaining in the half. Mikala Jordan tied the game with a free throw on the other end, and Agonias got it back a few seconds after with two more free shots of his own to give the Daggers a 30-28 lead with 1:58 remaining in the first half.
Agonias added another three with 90 seconds to go in the half and a layup the next time down to give the Daggers a seven-point advantage with under a minute to play. Pahoa would end up taking a 38-34 lead into the locker room.
Kohala wasn’t able to take the lead back in the third quarter, but was kept in the game despite foul trouble from Figueroa. Agbayani and Hana Carvalho combined for 11 third quarter points to keep Pahoa from edging out its lead too far. The Daggers took a four point lead, 53-49, into the fourth quarter.
Pahoa opened up the fourth with a three-pointer from Saito to push the lead back to seven. The Daggers’ senior scored 10 points in the final frame and finished with 19 for the game.
“He promised me at the end of last year at the Civic, Friday night right after the Kohala game, I had to meet him up at the emergency room because he had a concussion. He promised me, he said ‘Daddy, I’m gonna win you the BIIF tournament next year,’ Coach Saito explained.
Saito would struggle from the free throw line in the quarter, however, hitting 7 of his 11 attempts. On his second miss, however, Kili Oliveira grabbed the offensive rebound and put the ball back in the hoop to give Pahoa a 58-49 lead with 6:26 remaining.
Oliveira scored 12 second-half points and finished with 15 on the night.
Kohala got four in a row after giving up the offensive board and basket. Agbayani got a tip-in basket and Figueroa converted a steal into a basket to make the score 58-53 with under six minutes to play.
Pahoa would take care of business at the free throw line to keep the Cowboys away. The Daggers went 13-for-20 from the free throw line in the final period, while the Cowboys struggled to make baskets from the perimeter, allowing Pahoa to close the game out.
Figueroa led the Cowboys with 16 points while Agbayani added 14 and Carvalho added 12.
After the game, it was announced that Pahoa would receive the top seed in next week’s New City Nissan/Hawai’i High School Athletic Association Division II Boys Basketball Championships, held on Oahu Feb. 26-28. The Daggers will face Kalani High School Thursday night.
Kohala, meanwhile, will open the tournament Thursday with a matchup against third-seeded Seabury Hall out of the Maui Interscholastic League. The game will be played at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast at ESPNHawaii.com
Oahu Interscholastic Association champion Kaiser, coached by former Waiakea standout Brandon Kawazoe, was seeded second in the eight-team tournament. Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion Hawai’i Baptist Academy received the final seed.
Pahoa 13 25 15 22 – 75
Kohala 18 16 15 13 – 62