Discipline Keeps Waiakea Perfect in BIIF Play
In a close game at Castle Gymnasium in Waimea Wednesday night, Waiakea High School did something few high school basketball teams even think of doing: hold on to the ball and air out the clock.
True, it kept fans from seeing more of the shootout they were hoping for between Waiakea’s Calvin Mattos and Hawai’i Prep’s Jonas Skupeika, a lively crowd saw a low-scoring, strategic matchup between two of the top teams in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation. The Warriors defeated HPA by the final score of 45-33 to improve to a league-best 15-3 overall record and 8-0 BIIF mark.
“It was a great win,” said Waiakea assistant coach Brandon Kauhi. “HPA is a great team, and we were down one going into the fourth quarter and we really weren’t used to that.”
Hawai’i Prep (7-4 overall, 4-1 BIIF) held the 31-30 advantage heading into the fourth quarter, but lost it quickly as Waiakea’s Noah Ferreira hit a pair of free throws to flip the game around, giving Waiakea a 31-30 advantage just 12 seconds in. Ka Makani answered back on its next possession with a trey from Matija Vitorovic, giving HPA a 33-31 lead.
Ferreira struck from distance with a three to take the lead back at 34-33, and not long after that, Waiakea put the game into a deep freeze. The Warriors employed a four-corners, stall-like offense to keep the ball in their possession and hold on to the lead.
“We just took time off of the clock. HPA sat back on it, so we were just able to take time off and we were able to get our key players back into the game when we needed them.” Kauhi explained.
Waiakea’s strategy did more than just milk the clock down. It took Hawai’i Prep out of its normal pace and rhythm, and it showed on the offensive end. Vitorovic’s trey represented the only points scored in the final frame by Ka Makani, who were outscored 16-3 in the final period. HPA shot 1-for-10 in the final quarter. With Skupeika fouling out with just under two minutes to play, the home team’s attempts to get back into the game were made just that much tougher.
The fourth quarter stall was also used in the final two minutes in the first half, and it didn’t go over well with the partisan HPA crowd, drawing a scattered chorus of boos. It did its job, however, helping Waiakea maintain a 23-19 halftime lead.
Skupeika, who scored 45 against Waiakea in a double-overtime win last month, was held down by a mix of different defenses, whether it was a box-and-one, straight zone, or man-to-man. He still led Hawai’i Prep with 11 points, but was held to 4-for-13 shooting. Seven of his points came in the third quarter, arguably Ka Makani’s most productive quarter offensively.
“We just tried things to keep him [Skupeika] from scoring. He’s a great player and we tried different things with man and zone,” Kauhi said. “At the end of the day, if he did score, it was going to be a tough shot.”
Mattos, Waiakea’s leading scorer, was on point early. He scored eight points in the opening period, including a pair of treys, to pace the Warriors to a 10-2 start and 13-9 first quarter lead. Mattos ended the game with a team-high 17 points.
HPA shot 3-for-26 from beyond the arc. From inside the arc, Ka Makani shot 9-for-22. That left Ka Makani shooting 25 percent for the game from the floor.
On the bench, Kauhi served as the interim head coach for Waiakea, replacing Paul Lee, who was sick and not able to make the trip to Waimea.
Waiakea 13 10 6 16 – 45
Hawai’i Prep 9 10 11 3 – 33
Wednesday’s BIIF basketball scoreboard
Waiakea 45, Hawai’i Prep 33
Konawaena 62, Kamehameha-Hawai’i 41
Hilo 71, Ka’u 44
Honoka’a 87, Kohala 79
Pahoa 65, Laupahoehoe 20