It came down to the final minutes, but Sage Hill (Calif.) pulled away late on free throws from junior guard Tyler Hague to down Kealakehe 48-43 at the World Youth Basketball Tournament Makahiki Hou Invitational at Kekuaokalani Gymnasium on Friday.
Hague led the Lighting with 14 points, while Arthur Freddy paced the Waveriders with 11. Justin Freddy and Keanu Tilfas also contributed for Kealakehe, combining for 15 points.
The game was a tough defensive battle from the get-go, featuring multiple blocks and steals from both squads. The turnover numbers were well into the double-digits for both teams.
“Turnovers — lots of turnovers” said Sage Hill head coach Jeff Beeler. “Luckily we were able to put away those free throws late, but this certainly was not a pretty win.”
Despite the loss, Kealakehe head Coach Sam Kekuaokalani saw the game as a good test for his young roster as the preseason winds down.
“We are getting better as far as executing, but our half-court set isn’t there yet,” Kekuaokalani said. “We are trying to apply what we practice, but still have got a ways to go.”
Sage Hill raced out to the early lead, but the Waveriders recovered by midway through the second quarter to tie the game at 18. The teams would trade blows until the end of the half, when Sage Hill hit a 3-pointer from the corner to take a 27-24 lead going into the break.
Sage Hill was hampered by foul trouble in the first half. Hague — one of the team’s top shooters — was sidelined with two early fouls and sat a large part of the first half. Before taking a seat, Hague managed to tally seven points in limited minutes.
Mario Nark picked up the slack Hague’s absence. In the second quarter, Nark went 3-3 from beyond the arc.
“When the score is in the 40s, you know it’s a defensive game,” Kekuaokalani said. “They did shoot fairly well from the three-point line though. Every time a team gets hot like that from the three, every basket weighs on you and hurts your momentum.”
After a scoreboard outage at the 3:21 mark of the fourth quarter, the teams combined for only two field goals. It became obvious the game would have to be earned at the charity stripe.
Hague stepped up, hitting 4-of-6 free throws and giving Sage Hill the edge it needed.
Kealakehe had a chance late — down only three points — but bad execution on the inbound pass doomed the Waveriders. Sage Hill added two more free throws late to seal the win.
“We were fouling the wrong guy,” said Kekuaokalani. “It comes down to executing and finishing the game. Free throws and turnovers really hurt us late.”
The game was the debut for Sage Hill at the WYBT, and the team expects more challenges in the games to come.
“I’m looking forward to the adversary in some tough road games, just like tonight,” said Beeler. “We have 12 league games coming up as soon as we get back to California, so to play some good local teams is a nice challenge leading up to that.”
Sage Hill plays today against Honokaa and Kealakehe has the weekend off before facing New Zealand Monday.
Konawaena 71, New Zealand 36
It looked close early, but the Wildcats stepped on the gas in the second quarter to breeze past New Zealand on Friday.
“What I tell these guys is that our preseason games are practices with refs,” said
Konawaena assistant coach Tory Guillermo. “We have to be consistent in our approach and execute at both ends — no matter the score.”
Cameron Howes led Konawaena with 20 points and Jonah Bredeson added 17.
Jorge Tagaloa was the only player in double-digits for New Zealand with 16.
Konawaena 56, Maranatha (Calif.) 42
The Konawaena offense runs through sophomore star Chanelle Molina.
The Maranatha offense runs through 6-foot-4 center Channon Fluker
The two powerhouse players collided Friday night at the World Youth Basketball Tournament, with Konawaena edging Maranatha behind Molina’s 29 points.
Foul trouble was the best defense against both Molina and Fluker — who had 11 and 18 points respectively in the first half.
Molina played the fourth quarter with four fouls and Fluker played limited second half minutes with five.
With Fluker on the bench for the majority of the fourth quarter, Maranatha was forced to move away from throwing the ball into the post and letting Fluker do her work. Instead, the team resorted to three-point attempts and hoping to get to the line.
Fluker’s absence was also felt on the defensive end, with the Wildcats gaining the advantage under the rim and putting away easy second-chance baskets.
Molina — who is rarely a spectator — sat a bit in the second half, but took over the game in the fourth quarter, hitting 8-of-10 free throws and finishing the quarter with 12 points. Konawaena outscored Maranatha 21-12 in the final quarter.
Mercedes “Ihi” Victor added 12 points for Konawaena.
Honokaa 50, Rosehill (Texas) 21
Honokaa raced to an early lead, and piled on in the second half to run past a six-girl Rose Hill team. The Dragons led 34-10 at the half, and did much of the same in the second half.
Chancis Fernandez led the Way for Honokaa with 15 points and Hunter Liftee added 13. Madison Higgins was the leading scorer for Rosehill with eight.
Mulgrave (Canada) 48, Kealakehe 27
In the first game of the day, the lady Waveriders fell behind early to visiting Mulgrave and never recovered.
Sophomore Ashlyn Cabatbat led Kealakehe with 10 points.