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Dengue Fever Scare Decimates Preseason Hoops Tourneys

November 25, 2015, 7:23 PM HST
* Updated November 26, 9:44 AM
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The dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island has made a big impact on high school basketball teams who planned to fly over to play in preseason tournaments.

Konawaena High School’s annual girls basketball tournament has been reduced in half because of the scare. ‘Iolani, Maryknoll, Kaiser, and Hawai’i Baptist Academy all chose to pull out of the tournament, scheduled for Dec. 3-5, because of the dengue fever issue, according to Konawaena athletic director Bill Trumbo.

A total of 101 individuals have contracted dengue fever, according to the Hawai’i Department of Health Wednesday.

According to Trumbo, the tournament is an opportunity for Konawaena to stay at home and play top-tier competition, something that doesn’t come around very often during Big Island Interscholastic Federation league play.

As it is, the Wildcats travel often to play tough games. They won all three of their contests at the Ted Fukushima Invitational last week, hosted by Kaiser High School. They will travel to play tournaments hosted by Lahainaluna High School and ‘Iolani School, and also head to Washington D.C. for the Title IX Tournament.

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Right now, Lahainaluna has remained committed to play in Konawaena’s tournament, joining the host Wildcats, Honoka’a, and Kamehameha-Hawai’i. Trumbo says that he and head coach Bobbie Awa are currently adjusting the schedule.

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The dengue fever scare has also affected the 16-team Kea’au/Waiakea Boys Basketball Tournament, scheduled for Dec. 2-6. Waiakea athletic director Thomas Correa announced on Wednesday that all of the neighbor island teams have backed out of the event because of the dengue fever scare. Those schools include Hawai’i Baptist Academy, Kamehameha-Kapalama, Kalaheo, ‘Iolani, and Kaiser.

Correa says that the tournament will now have six teams in each school’s bracket, with Waiakea fielding two teams to even things out. Kea’au’s girls basketball team will join in the tournament to play a game on the final day of the event.

Kamehameha-Kapalama was also scheduled to participate in this year’s St. Joseph School Cardinal Classic. Interim athletic director Joey Estrella confirmed that the Warriors, coached by Greg Tacon, will not participate in that tournament either, and the school is working to fill the open slot with another team.

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Hawai’i County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said on Wednesday that he first heard of neighbor island teams backing out of Big Island athletic tournaments last week during a community meeting at Kea’au High School.

“We’re tying to have people make decisions that would still allow them to come here and have an enjoyable experience here, while employing some of those basic protective measures,” said Oliveira, who reminds individuals to wear mosquito repellent and long sleeve shirts to help avoid being bitten.

Oliveira reminds residents and visitors that no dengue fever cases have been linked to any schools on the island. Many schools have been sprayed to prevent a potential outbreak on campus. Konawaena High School was among those on the list.

“We don’t see any evidence to link the campuses to any part of the outbreak,” said Oliveira of athletic events happening on school grounds. “For DOE, as they take whatever steps they need to minimize the amount of mosquito infestation on their campuses, they also reduce the risk.”

Oddly enough, while Kaiser’s basketball teams won’t be traveling to the island, three of the school’s soccer teams will be heading to Kealakekua to participate in the Wahine Wildcat Preseason Soccer Tournament, which begins Friday and runs through Sunday. Maui’s Baldwin High School and Oahu’s Castle High School will also be a part of the field, joining Konawaena, Honoka’a, and Makua Lani,

In Waimea, Hawai’i Preparatory Academy’s 44th Annual Ka Makani Soccer Classic will also feature a number of neighbor island teams this weekend. In the girls tournament, Punahou, Kapa’a, Maui, King Kekaulike, and Mid-Pacific will travel for the tournament, which runs on the same dates as Konawaena’s tournament. In the boys bracket, Pearl City, Mid-Pacific, Seabury Hall, Kalani, and Kapa’a have committed to participate.

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