As the regular season begins to draw to a close for BIIF basketball, wins and losses start to mean more as teams try to maneuver themselves into a good seeding for the playoffs.
Two teams putting a lot of slashes in the win column as of late, Hawaii Preparatory Academy and Konawaena, met on the hard court in Kealakekua on Monday. Both teams have been streaking, with Ka Makani entering the game with four straight wins and the Wildcats on a five-game streak.
Both teams proved to be evenly matched in the back and forth game, but a late third quarter run by Hawaii Prep gave Ka Makani the points it would need to hold off Konawaena 55-52.
“This was a good game between two good teams and it came down to a couple of possessions,” said Hawaii Prep head coach Fred Wawner. “We were able to execute at critical times and play at our speed. We were able to make one more play at the end to win.”
The Wildcats jumped out to an early 6-2 lead in the first quarter after layups by Aina Alip and Paka Cacoulidis, which included a no-look pass for an assist by Austin Ewing on the first shot. Hauoli Akau added a pair of free throws. They maintained a four point lead for most of the quarter.
With just over a minute to go, Hawaii Prep managed to cut he deficit to one point off a 3-point shot by by Michael Hanano. Konawaena ended the opening frame up 12-10.
Ka Makani managed to tie the game on the opening possession of the second quarter and then took a one-point lead when KJ Walker knocked down a shot from beyond the arc at the six minute mark. Bot teams exchanged the lead over the next two minutes before Hawaii Prep’s Javan Perez knocked down a 3-pointer from the front with 3:54 to go before the half.
Konawaena’s Cacoulidis cut the deficit back to one point by following his own 3-point shot in for a rebound to hit a short jumper, but HPA answered back with a quick layup. However, a shot from long range by Sean Amor tied the game at 22-22 with just over three minutes to play.
Jaysen Bragado answered with a layup for Ka Makani to reclaim the advantage and Walker hit a short jumper late in the period. Hawaii Prep managed to hold on to a 26-25 lead heading into halftime.
Hawaii Prep came out in the second half and quickly knocked down a pair of 3-pointers. A two-point play in between by the Wildcats made the score 32-27. Another 3-pointer by Walker with two minutes to play in the third quarter put Ka Makani up by eight, there biggest lead of the game so far. HPA led with a quarter to go, 41-33.
Hawaii Prep took a nine point lead early in the fourth quarter, but three consecutive layups by Konawaena’s Cacoulidis, Ewing and Aldrin Gadot cut the deficit to two with four minutes to play. Cacoulidis picked up a free throw on the backend of his play for 3-points total.
The Wildcats struggled to take the lead and with 30 seconds remaining Ka Makani led by three. After and inbound pass, Konawaena’s Cacoulidis raced to the basket, scoring on an uncontested layup with 16 seconds to play.
The Wildcats were forced to foul at the 12 second mark and HPA’s Jonah Hurney went to the line. He converted both his shots to put his team back up by three. After a couple of fouls by Ka Makani, Konawaena’s Aldrin Gadot had an open look at a 3-pointer to tie the game with two seconds to go, but the ball hit the front of the rim. Cacoulidis grabbed the rebound and tried for the putback but missed. He was then fouled and went to the line, but missed is first free throw. HPA grabbed the rebound to end the game.
“I thought we played well we just shot the ball terribly from outside,” said Konawaena head coach Donny Awa. “HPA is well coached and disciplined, and they make you work hard on both sides of the ball.”