Editor’s note: While the sports world is shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, West Hawaii Today will look back every Tuesday at memorable sports moments on the Big Island.
Back in February, the Kohala boys basketball team claimed the school’s first state title, a 51-48 victory over Roosevelt in the Division II championship game.
O’shen Cazimero, Molonai Emeliano, Moses Emeliano and Koby Agbayani are some of the names that will now forever be enshrined in the Cowboys’ trophy case. Before them, however, is a long line of Cowboys who have had their own success on the basketball court, even if they weren’t able to win it all.
In 1983, it was players such as Bradley Estabilio, Lance Cazimero and Robert Halbritter that brought the Cowboys close to being the top team in Hawaii.
That year, Kohala finished the BIIF season with a 50-47 win over the Waiakea Warriors for the BIIF championship and a No. 3 seed in the state tournament. The Cowboys would lose in the their first game on Oahu, 65-63 to Leilehua.
Estabilio, Cazimero and Halbritter returned in 1984, and the Cowboys were undefeated in BIIF play, 17-0. They defeated Hilo 52-44 for the BIIF title.
Halbritter scored 18 points and had 17 rebounds against Hilo in the win. Estabilio scored 13.
Estabilio was named the All-BIIF boys basketball player of the year for the second consecutive time before the Cowboys headed to the state tournament. Estabilio averaged more than 17 points a game during the 1983-84 season.
“The 1983-84 Big Island Interscholastic Federation basketball season marked the end of an era. The era of Kohala’s Bradley Estabilio, possibly the best high school guard to ever don a BIIF uniform,” West Hawaii Today’s Bill O’Rear wrote in a Feb. 28, 1984 article.
“It was his versatile play and ability to lead the Cowboys that easily distinguished him as head and shoulders above the rest of the BIIF’s best.”
The Cowboys advanced to the semifinals on Oahu after a 60-56 win over Mililani. They lost to Maryknoll, the eventual state champion next, 70-44. Kohala ended up in fourth place after losing to Kalaheo in the third-place game 61-51.
Estabilio was also elected into the HHSAA Hall of Honor in 1984. Estabilio was also awarded the Big Island’s player of the year by the Honolulu Advertiser after the Cowboys’ run through the state tournament.
“Bradley was the unanimous choice as Player of the Year. I don’t think any coach would dispute that. He was a three-time All-BIIF performer and did everything for Kohala,” The Advertiser’s Hugh Clark told West Hawaii Today’s O’Rear in March 1984.
On Halbritter: “A force in the BIIF tournament.” Clark said his dominating rebounding was essential to Kohala’s success.
On Cazimero: “One of the reasons Kohala has done so well the past two seasons.”
After the 1984 season, Kohala would not win another BIIF title until 2007, when they won the Division II title over St. Joseph. The Cowboys would win again in 2008, 2009 and 2014.