HONOLULU – The last time the Konawaena boys basketball team was in the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state tournament, this year’s seniors were mere seventh-graders, hoping and dreaming of one day reaching the state’s biggest stage.
So on Thursday, as the fourth-seeded team made its debut in this year’s Division I state tournament against Pearl City in the quarterfinals, it was understandable that Konawaena looked a big ragged and out of character. The school was making its first appearance in the state tournament since 2008, when it finished third. And senior starters Brenton Shropshire, Kenan Gaspar and Nick Mims were admittedly nervous at McKinley High.
“For four years playing in high school, we wanted to get here,” said Gaspar, who led all scorers with 12 points. “Every year we had to grow and grow and get better and better. … Everybody was just ready to play and wasn’t going to let this game get away.”
The Wildcats powered their way to a 44-33 win over an undersized but feisty Pearl City squad that upset Moanalua on Wednesday. With the victory, Konawaena (13-0) advances to Friday’s semifinals, where it will face top-seeded Maryknoll (12-1). Tipoff is 7 p.m. at Neal Blasidell Center.
Despite the victory, Thursday’s game wasn’t the prettiest of wins, with the team committing 17 turnovers (including seven in the fourth quarter) and shooting a mere 36 percent (14-for-39) from the field and 64 percent (14-for-22) from the free-throw line.
“We kind of got caught up in the hoopla and got a little bit sloppy,” Wildcats coach Donny Awa said. “We worked hard, but it got a little sloppy.”
Brenton Shropshire added nine points, and Jonah Bredeson had seven for the Big Island Interscholastic Federation champion Wildcats.
Early on, the game looked like it would be a runaway. Sparked by 3-pointers from Gaspar and junior guard Brandon Awa, Konawaena surged to a 12-0 lead as Oahu Interscholastic Association No. 6 seed Pearl City (11-4) looked ragged, turning the ball over on four straight possessions. But that initial surge marked the largest lead of the game for the Wildcats, who failed to make a field goal over the next 10 minutes. The Chargers closed to within 17-14 with 2 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first half.
The action went up and down the court, but players were unable to find the basket, in part from the aggressive defense and in part from the poor shooting and sloppy ballhandling.
“They like to run, but we thought we might be better than Pearl City in the halfcourt, but it’s like trying to slow down a raging bronco, I guess,” Awa said. “(The Chargers) want to run. So at the end, we just told them to keep attacking, and that’s what we did.”
Konawaena pushed an eight-point halftime lead to 11 points after three quarters, but Pearl City wouldn’t go away. Senior Lawrence “Sonny” Glisson, who made five 3s and scored 22 points in Wednesday’s win over Moanalua, was held to just one point through the first three quarters. But he exploded for eight points — with two 3-pointers — to narrow the deficit to 34-29 midway through the fourth quarter.
Glisson and Tyson Hickox both finished with 11 points.
However, Konawaena settled down offensively against Pearl City’s scrambling, trapping defense and scored on four of its next five possessions to put the game away and reach the state semifinals.
Konawaena 13 10 9 12 — 44
Pearl City 5 10 6 12 — 33
c Farrington 57, Kamehameha-Hawaii 56: Mason Semisi scored 14 points, and Jacob McEnroe followed with 13 for OIA No. 4 seed Farrington, which knocked the BIIF runner-up Warriors out of the tournament in consolation play.
Isaiah Smith added 11 points for the Governors (11-6), who will play OIA runner-up Moanalua (13-3) at 11 a.m. today in the tournament’s seventh-place game at Neal Blaisdell Center.
Blaine-Allen Manliguis scored a team-high 15 points for the Warriors, who ended their season 10-7. Ilikai Calip added 12 points, and Shaun Kagawa had 11.
Farrington 14 6 23 14 — 57
KS-Hawaii 16 19 5 16 — 56
c Hawaii Prep 68, Kapaa 36: Senior guard Jovan Crnic scored 15 points at Honolulu’s Kaimuki High, leading a balanced attack for BIIF champion HPA, which led 45-14 at halftime.
Nicolas Palleschi added 11 points while Buck Thomas and Kama DeSilva each had eight for Ka Makani (10-4), which will play Interscholastic League of Honolulu champ and top-seeded St. Francis (10-0) at 5 p.m. today in a state semifinal at Kaimuki.
Kealii Colipano scored eight points for Kauai Interscholastic Federation champion Kapaa (8-3).
Kapaa 8 6 9 13 — 36
Hawaii Prep 23 22 15 8 — 68
c Kailua 47, Pahoa 42: At Kalani High, Kekoa Ford scored 12 points, Mason Youart followed with 10 and Kirk Ronolo had nine for the OIA champion Surfriders (9-5), who will play Maui Interscholastic League champion Seabury Hall (14-1) today at Kaimuki in a 7 p.m. state semifinal.
Nick Fisher scored 24 points, and Tolby Saito added 15 points for the BIIF runner-up Daggers (8-6), who will face ILH runner-up University (9-4) at 7 p.m. today at Kalani in consolation play.
Saito nailed three 3-pointers in the contest.
Pahoa 8 6 12 16 — 42
Kailua 10 11 16 10 — 47