Ka Makani rough up ’Rid­ers

Hawaii Tribune Herald - - SPORTS - By JOHN DEGROOTE

WAIMEA — For the first time in a half-dozen years, the BIIF will have a new Di­vi­sion I cham­pion. But for Hawaii Prep, ev­ery­thing just seems like busi­ness as usual.

Be­hind a scorch­ing start, the top-seeded and un­beaten Ka Makani (110) knocked off six-time de­fend­ing BIIF cham­pi­ons Kealakehe 10-1 on Tues­day in a D-I semi­fi­nal matchup.

With the win, Ka Makani have earned a spot in cham­pi­onship game on Satur­day against Wa­iakea in Waimea. The War­riors beat Hilo 3-2 in the other semi­fi­nal. The ti­tle tilt is sched­uled for 3 p.m.

Re­gard­less of what hap­pens in the cham­pi­onship, Wa­iakea and Hawaii Prep al­ready have spots re­served in the HHSAA tour­na­ment on Oahu, which be­gins Feb. 15.

The BIIF win­ner will have a seeded berth in the tour­ney.

There was lit­tle to no drama in Ka Makani’s vic­tory over the reign­ing cham­pion Waveriders. Hawaii Prep scored four goals within the first 12 min­utes, and coasted to the lop­sided win, notch­ing the fi­nal goal of the mercy rule vic­tory with two min­utes re­main­ing in the match.

“Soccer is funny,” Hawaii Prep head coach Rich Braith­waite said. “We could have eas­ily not fin­ished some of those chances and it ends up be­ing a dog­fight un­til the end. But to­day, we got the first few to go and we just went from there.”

Jake Sch­nei­der notched a hat trick to lead Ka Makani, while Toby Balaam scored a pair and added two beau­ti­ful as­sists.

“That was by far the best game Toby has played this sea­son,” Braith­waite said. “The sud­den burst of pace down the side­line he pro­vides is in­cred­i­ble.”

Ka Makani bumped up to Di­vi­sion I this year, and it came with some el­e­vated ex­pec­ta­tions. How­ever, it wasn’t un­re­al­is­tic to think that Hawaii Prep would thrive un­der the new clas­si­fi­ca­tion, es­pe­cially against Big Is­land op­po­nents.

The team was al­ready play­ing out of the BIIF’s top tier — the four-team Red Di­vi­sion — against tra­di­tional D-I pow­ers Kealakehe, Wa­iakea and Hilo, and do­ing so with re­sound­ing suc­cess. After the win over the Waveriders, Ka Makani have amassed a 34-12 record in BIIF play the last three sea­sons, also win­ning the last two D-II state ti­tles.

“We wanted to com­pete at the D-I level and we knew we could play with them,” Braith­waite said. “But it’s go­ing to be a whole dif­fer­ent game on Oahu.”

It was also on the same field in Waimea two sea­sons ago that Hawaii Prep snapped Kealakehe’s nearly four-year un­beaten streak in the BIIF with a dom­i­nant 6-1 win. That vic­tory, in a way, sig­naled a chang­ing of the guard among the Big Is­land’s elite.

“We are peak­ing right now and it’s at the per­fect time go­ing into the cham­pi­onship and the state tour­na­ment,” Braith­waite said.

Ilan Naibryf, Chris Whit­field, Chris Chock, David Welch Keli­ihoomalu and Kamu Lind­sey also found the score­sheet in win.

“This was the big­gest game of the year for us,” se­nior de­fender Jevon Flip­pin said. “We have been talk­ing about this game all week. We came out and ex­e­cuted what we needed to ac­com­plish.”

Flip­pin said some solid mu­sic se­lec­tion from the fresh­man on the team in the locker room got the team pumped up for the fast start. It surely helped, but it was how loud Ka Makani were on the field that proved to be a ma­jor cat­a­lyst in the win.

“Our com­mu­ni­ca­tion was key,” Kamu Lind­sey said. “Com­ing into this game, we tried to make every touch and every run count. In our last game of the sea­son (a 1-0 win over Honokaa) we were a lit­tle too high on our horses. I think that was an eye-opener for us.”

Hawaii Prep will look to ride the wave of mo­men­tum against Wa­iakea in the ti­tle game. Hawaii Prep took both reg­u­lar sea­son matchups by a com­bined score of 10-3.

“Wa­iakea is a very sim­i­lar team to us. They like to build out of the back, play in the mid­field, play in peo­ple’s feet,” Braith­waite said. “I like play­ing against Wa­iakea. It’s al­most like play­ing against our­selves. It will end up be­ing a bat­tle of who can main­tain pos­ses­sion and fin­ish in the fi­nal third.”

Ka Makani have the ben­e­fit of some home-cook­ing for the ti­tle game. It was moved from Kon­awaena to Hawaii Prep’s cam­pus by BIIF of­fi­cials this week after the field in Kealakekua took a beat­ing last week­end dur­ing the girls cham­pi­onship games.

“We are ex­cited,” Braith­waite said. “Not just be­cause it’s a home game, but be­cause this is such a beau­ti­ful pitch and to get to play the BIIF fi­nals on such a field is a bless­ing.

The sea­son is over for the Waveriders (4-6-2), who won’t be head­ing to the state tour­na­ment for the first time since 2011.

Bryson Guanio broke through to score the lone goal for Kealakehe in the 68th minute.

Kame­hameha gets top seed at states

Fresh off a thrilling vic­tory in the BIIF Di­vi­sion II cham­pi­onship, the War­riors have more rea­son to cel­e­brate.

Kame­hameha was awarded the top seed for the HHSAA Di­vi­sion II state tour­na­ment, which be­gins Feb. 7 on Oahu. The War­riors will play the win­ner of Le Jardin and Leile­hua.

Hawaii Prepara­tory Academy — the four-time de­fend­ing state cham­pi­ons — are un­seeded, but be­gin their state tour­ney cam­paign against Nanakuli on Feb. 7.

Makua Lani earned the BIIF’s third and fi­nal berth in the state tour­na­ment, and will play Rad­ford in their first round game.

The other seeded teams in D-II are ILH win­ners Sa­cred Hearts (3), KIF champ Ka­paa (2) and the OIA’s top squad, Kailua (4).

On the Di­vi­sion I side, three-time BIIF cham­pion Hilo will be the No. 3 seed, play­ing the win­ner of Moanalua and a to be de­ter­mined sec­ond place ILH squad.

BIIF run­ner-up Kon­awaena will host a first-round game against Pearl City on Feb 5.

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