Friday | January 19, 2018
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BIIF girls basketball: Konawaena, Waiakea fight top seed in D-I playoffs

With a possible top seed in the BIIF Division I tournament on the line, Konawaena and Waiakea will collide Wednesday night in Kealakekua. Both teams sport 6-0 records in BIIF regular season play this season but are far different on paper.

The Wildcats (17-2 overall) enter the game at Ellison Onizuka Gymnasium with a 110-game winning streak in league play and as the three-time defending state champs. With the senior leadership of Cherilyn Molina, Mikayla Tablit and Kawena Kaohimaunu, Konawaena — despite having a shockingly small squad every year — is gunning for its 10th straight BIIF title and yet another state crown, which would be coach Bobbie Awa’s ninth overall (2004, ‘07, ‘09, ‘11-12, ‘15-17).

Waiakea (13-5) is a much younger team, but with a deeper roster. The Warriors were the last team to beat the Wildcats in league play, with that win coming way back in the the 2008 BIIF D-I championship game.

Last season, Waiakea pushed Konawaena to its limit, but ultimately lost in a rare, close 51-46 BIIF contest.

The teams met earlier this season in the Hilo Holiday Prep Classic, a preseason tournament in which Konawaena defeated the Warriors 57-38. The Wildcats may not have depth, but they spread the ball around with a proficient passing game that was on display that night as four players scored eight or more points.

Konawaena was deadly from 3-point range, hitting 8-of-21 shots. The Wildcats also displayed their most lethal weapon — defense — forcing several turnovers for easy baskets. Molina led the way against Waiakea with 17 points. Kaohimaunu and Tablit also reached double digits.

The Warriors were led by Kelsie Imai, who netted 13 points. However, the team struggled from the line, shooting less than 50 percent while going 2-of-10 from long range. Imai, a sophomore, is the sister of Kamie Imai, who was on the Waiakea team that last beat the Wildcats.

The loss during the preseason tourney was the last for the Warriors, who are currently on a six-game winning streak and face rival Hilo on Friday. In six BIIF regular season games this season, Waiakea’s closest contest was a six-point victory riday against Kamehameha. Their largest margin of victory came against Kealakehe, a dominating 98-10 performance.

For Konawaena, close BIIF games rarely occur. The tightest contest was an eight point spread with Hilo to start the season. They defeated Ka’u on Friday 98-3 for their largest margin of victory. The Wildcats’ two losses this season came against last year’s state runner-up Maryknoll, and to Lahainaluna in a game that went into double overtime.


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