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Konawaena Holds off Cardinal Classic Host

December 12, 2015, 7:50 AM HST
* Updated December 12, 7:53 AM
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Veteran Konawaena boys basketball coach Donny Awa said on the radio hours before his game on Friday against St. Joseph that the tournament his team was playing in didn’t offer any easy wins.

So far, he’s been right.

A night after coming from behind to defeat Honoka’a, Awa’s squad made another comeback, this time beating host St. Joseph 53-50 in the semifinals of the Cliff and Kathie Dias St. Joseph School Cardinal Classic Basketball Tournament, held at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

Early in the game, St. Joseph put Konawaena in an early hole, opening up with a 9-0 run in the first 4:40 of the contest. The hot start was powered by junior Manato Fukuda, who scored 13 points and hit three treys in the opening frame to push the Cardinals to a 17-9 lead.

Fukuda wasn’t heard from again, however, going scoreless the rest of the way on 0-for-6 shooting, opening the door for Konawaena to slowly creep back into the game. By the time halftime hit, the Wildcats still hadn’t held a lead, but had crept within three at 26-23.

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The comeback charge was led by sophomore forward Maitland Akau, who drilled a three from above the left wing to tie the game at 26-26 early in the third period. After a St. Joseph basket, Akau splashed through another three to put the Wildcats ahead 29-28 with 5:23 left in the third.

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St. Joseph (5-4) wouldn’t give up the lead easily. After Akau’s second trey, Jakob Au found Ruka Suda cutting to the basket to retake the 30-29 lead with 4:45 remaining in the third.

Suda finished with 11 points on 5-for-9 shooting.

Konawaena (2-0) got the lead back shortly after that and never lost it, despite a heroic second half effort from Cole deSilva, who scored 15 of his game-high 20 points in the last 16 minutes, nine of those points in the final quarter. He also grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds.

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Where Konawaena put the game away was up front, riding the tall and strong shoulders of Reyson Ching and Ka’anoi Kelekolio-Rivera. Even without senior Ryan Malone due to injury, Ching and Kelekolio-Rivera lead the charge on the glass with a 26-16 rebound advantage over St. Joseph. Kelekolio-Rivera, also a sophomore, led the Wildcats with 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting, while the taller Ching dropped in nine points and six rebounds.

Konawaena will face Kamehameha-Hawai’i in Saturday night’s championship game, which will begin at 8 p.m. The third place game, which tips at 6:30 p.m., features St. Joseph and Waiakea.

Konawaena 9 14 20 10 – 53

St. Joseph 17 9 12 12 – 50

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