In front of a rowdy home crowd at Castle Gymnasium, Hawaii Preparatory Academy downed visiting Waiakea 69-60, behind 16 points from junior point guard Justas Gecas, to remain perfect in the young Big Island Interscholastic Federation season.
“I was proud of our guys to find a way to win,” said co-head coach Fred Wawner. “We are lucky we have such a great group of kids that are always excited to play.”
HPA came out of the gate running, with a balanced offensive attack, scoring 21 points in the first quarter with contributions from seven players.
“These guys they work really hard, so they deserve to get on the floor,” Wawner said. “ They really battle in practice, so when they get on the floor they are ready to go.”
HPA held a distinct size advantage over Waiakea — as it likely will in every game this year, boasting eight players taller than 6 feet. However, the Warriors, led by senior forward Lucas St. George, refused to concede the battle in the paint.
St. George made the HPA big men work hard for points and was the Warriors powerhouse on offense, driving to the rim, drawing fouls and converting at the line.
“We had a hard time stopping (St. George) all night,” Wawner said. “It was not as much foul trouble as it was we just did not have an answer, no matter who we put on him.
“We ended up putting a guard on him, and I think he did the best job. That opened up opportunities for us to get some easy transition baskets. We were reeling for a little while, but fought back.”
St. George kept Waiakea within striking distance for the majority of the first half, but after a relatively slow start Ka Makani standout Kalan Camero struck.
With the first half winding down and HPA clinging to a three-point lead, Camero found himself in a familiar situation — with the ball in his hands. With the pressure on, the senior delivered the highlight play of the night, dropping a defender to the floor with a quick crossover and sinking a 3-pointer.
“That was a big shot,” said Wawner. “He looked to us for a play and we didn’t have much, so he bailed us out. He’s a senior so this is his year. The guys look to him to take those big shots. He doesn’t have to make them, but he’s got our confidence to take them.”
Camero finished the game with 14 points.
Waiakea remained steady offensively — scoring 13 points in each of the first three quarters — and managed to contain the HPA offense by a change in strategy.
“It started out fast for us and slowed down quick,” Wawner said. “They went to a zone and we had a hard time managing that.”
It was not until the fourth quarter that Ka Makani found their offensive game again, scoring 25 points — two points more than the team’s second and third quarter combined output.
St. George finished the game as the Warriors leading scorer with 23, and Kahinu Alapai added 14 points.
David Ovbagbedia and Nicolas Palleschi were the other players in double-digits for Ka Makani, combining for 25 points.