Officially, the games played Sunday at the four-team jamboree inside Hawaii Prep’s Castle Gym may not have counted in the BIIF record book. Just don’t tell that to the student-athletes from HPA, Honokaa, Kealakehe and Kohala.
Apart from the empty stands, the four games felt nothing like an exhibition. They each featured physical play, pesky, full-court defense and some of the Big Island’s best basketball players had their games on full display.
“It’s just for the kids; this was all for them just to be able to play a game this year,” said Kihei Kapeliela, the coach of both the Kohala club team NSP and Kohala High. “We had three seniors on the floor today, and this might be the only chance we get to play. We wanted to do it for them, for the seniors.”
Even without All-BIIF big Molonai Emeliano, missing because of a college visit, Kapeliela’s team showed flashes of what made them last year’s HHSAA Division II champs. O’Shen Cazimero’s slashing ability meshed well with the smooth stroke of La’akea Kauka from beyond the arc; the junior duo combined to score 35 of Kohala’s 51 points in their first action on the court in 13 months: a 51-41 victory over the Kealakehe club team.
Honokaa also snagged a victory over Kealakehe, winning 40-28 behind a game-high 16 points from Emery Eberhard.
“It means everything for my seniors,” said Honokaa’s coach Jayme Carvalho. “All appreciation goes to HPA for hosting us. I wish we had another weekend.”
Ka Makani remained hot in the abbreviated 2021 season, extending their winning streak to six games with victories on Sunday over Honokaa 65-43 and Kohala 57-40.
Bear Wawner paced HPA over Honokaa in their first game, netting 21 points, while Alexander Laros led Ka Makani with 14 points against Kohala in the final game of the day.
Barring any last-minute additions to the schedule, the jamboree wraps up this year’s basketball calendar for the Big Island’s high school athletes. The four teams in Waimea were just happy to make their mark on what has been one of the oddest seasons.
“I’m just so happy for the kids that got to get on the court,” said Carvalho. “Just to have this time with their friends, it’s going to last a lifetime.”