HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
Wingert has Kaiser rolling to 4-0 start
The road to a Division II championship in the Oahu Interscholastic Association might be paved through Hawaii Kai.
The Kaiser Cougars, using a swarming full-court press and dominant play in the paint, outlasted Kamehameha II 64-52 last night. The Cougars finished their Kaiser Classic with a 3-0 record, including wins over Damien and Word of Life.
Andrew Wingert started slowly but scored 20 of his game-high 22 points in the second half to help Kaiser (4-0). Wingert, a 6-foot swingman, and Rayce Chun-Ming, a 6-2 senior, each pulled down nine rebounds as the Cougars ruled under the boards against the smaller Warriors.
Kalua Noa, another athletic low-post player, added nine points and nine boards. Noa, only a junior, is a transfer from Saint Louis.
The tournament, comprised of four teams in a round-robin format, gives Kaiser another confidence boost. The Cougars opened nonconference play two weeks ago with a decisive win over Division I Leilehua. They won't play again until Thursday, when Saint Louis II visits.
Wingert, a senior, tempers expectations with a patient outlook. Of all the teams that could qualify for the newly created Division II state tourney, Kaiser has as much talent and chemistry as any.
"People told us that before about football, but we just want to stay level-headed," Wingert said.
Kamehameha II relied on 3-point shooting and solid ballhandling until wearing down in the second half against Kaiser's press.
"We've got guys with long arms," Wingert said.
Kamehameha was within six points with less than 2 minutes left when Jake Esteban found Wingert wide open for a layup on an inbounds play. Wingert's 3-point play gave Kaiser a 58-49 lead and Kamehameha never threatened again.
Josiah Horner led KS II with 21 points, but sat out a key portion of the second half with foul trouble. Bronson Deluze added 11 points.
The third quarter was an illustration of hacking and contact for both teams. In all, 22 fouls were called in 8 minutes, and Kamehameha was in the bonus with 4:42 remaining in the third. Three technical fouls were also whistled, including two on Warrior coaches.
The atmosphere calmed down by the start of the fourth quarter, but Kamehameha's normally reliable 3-point shooters struggled. They got off just seven tries from the arc and made two in the final quarter.
Kamehameha II coach Roger Watson was relatively satisfied with his team's 2-1 record in the tournament.
"I know Kaiser wiped out Leilehua, and Leilehua wiped us out. We were still in this one," the fourth-year coach said. "Kaiser is gonna be tough. I look to see them in the state tournament. They're real athletic."
Kaiser coach Shawn Nagata downplayed his team's early success.
"We've gotta work on our free throws and the consistency of our half-court offense," he said.
The Cougars ran the offense much more smoothly when Esteban, a football standout, was on the floor. He sat for much of the game with foul trouble.
"I don't know if it's just Jake," said Nagata, who kept his team's attention during the hectic third quarter. "I can't predict what the refs are gonna call. You just gotta keep playing no matter what the calls are."