In the 12 months since the Eagles of Hawaii Baptist Academy played an official game, they still managed to grow together.
Grow stronger. Emi Wada scored 13 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter to fuel an HBA rally, but powerhouse Kamehameha prevailed, 52-46, at Dan Liu Gymnasium. In the second game of the doubleheader, Kamehameha overwhelmed Hawaii Baptist, 60-26, in a boys game. Both contests were pure exhibition matches.
The Warrior girls showed why they were contenders for league and state titles. Camille Feary tallied 13 points, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks while Alize Pratt scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half. Floor general Maddison Mangalao had 11 points and eight assists as the Warriors posted their second win over HBA in as many nights. MacKenzie Dela Vega also chipped in eight points.
For HBA, the home-and-home series is one of the few, if any, between two high school teams on the basketball court in Hawaii. The sport was cancelled along with other “higher risk” sports in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, leaving individual private schools to conduct individual skills workouts.
HBA’s girls had been churning away since last fall, Wada said, until this two-game series.
“These games were really fun because we haven’t played a game in so long, five on five. We just started that this week,” the junior guard said.
HBA assistant coach Isaac Hayashi saw the Eagles, who play in Division II, compete at a D-I level despite the lack of game action in 2020-21.
“I think, for the girls, throughout this past year, they stayed engaged and played together. It’s a young group with some seniors. Having the opportunity to play another team, to see for themselves individually and as a group, they could test themselves,” Hayashi said. “They continued to put the hard work in. It’s probably the roughest year most of us have had to face. The benefit was to see where their hard work has gotten to.”
In what is believed to be a first in 2020-21 high school sports in Hawaii, HBA and Kamehameha agreed to stringent protocols that included COVID-19 testing, which was required of coaches, players, trainers and staff. It was also required of media.
The empty bleachers at Liu Gymnasium — brightened by a setup of posters to honor the seniors of the boys and girls hoops teams at HBA — did not diminish the intensity level of either squad. The Eagles had lost at Kamehameha on Friday night to begin the home-and-home series.
Mangalao’s court leadership kept the Warriors’ offense in high-percentage mode. She also had four steals out of Kamehameha’s man-to-man defense. Her court savvy and wise decision-making were at elite level.
“She is tough on both the offensive and defensive end. She gets them into their offense and she’s a tough on-ball defender,” Coach Hayashi said. “A good all-around player.”
The visiting Warriors had a 38-24 lead after a coast-to-coast drive by Mangalao in the third quarter, but HBA chipped away. Hayley Taka’s fastbreak layup cut the lead to eight, and after Wada’s corner 3, the home team was within 41-36 with 4:55 remaining.
Feary answered with a clutch wing 3, and then turned a steal into an easy bucket for a 46-36 Kamehameha lead with 2:47 to play.
The Eagles got a follow shot by Taka and a straightaway 3 from Wada to pull within 49-44 with 1:04 remaining. However, Dela Vega answered with a three-point play in the paint and the Eagles got no closer than six in the final minute.
Wada, youngest sister of former Eagle standouts Ally and Rylie Wada, drained three treys in the final quarter. Taka closed out with 12 points and Careah Baitlon added seven.
The hustling Eagles scrapped for every loose ball and potential rebound from the start. Kamehameha Coach Pua Straight implored her squad to box out after seeing the home team take a lead in the second quarter. Her team responded with a 14-4 run to close the first half.
The Warriors will be busy in the coming week with a home game against Hanalani on Tuesday (4 p.m.) and a home-and-home series with Maryknoll on Friday and Saturday. The Friday game is set for 6 p.m. at Maryknoll. The teams reconvene on Saturday at Kekuhaupio Gymnasium with a noon tip-off time.
HBA will have an intrasquad game next week to close the season.
Note: A Kamehameha athletic director indicated that no coaches and players were permitted to be interviewed post-game, whether by phone or otherwise.