March 7, 2010 – Hilo, Hawaii
Video by David Corrigan
The new Division II basketball champions of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association made a triumphant return to the Big Island on Sunday morning, where a large crowd of hometown ohana was waiting to cheer them.
The Pahoa Daggers, by all accounts an underdog in the state tournament, defeated the defending champions Kailua 41-38 in the Saturday evening final on Oahu. Many Hawaii Island residents witnessed the shocking victory by watching the live game broadcast on cable channel OC 16. The victory gives Pahoa the Puna-area school’s first ever state title.
Freshman guard Nick Fisher led the team’s winning effort with 17 points and a place on the All Tournament Team. Senior Isaiah Ekau scored 12, and is credited as being the heart and soul of the team, having shouldered the scoring load during the prior games. Ekau was honored as the single Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
Pahoa barely squeaked into the state tournament after a last second buzzer beater upset undefeated Kohala in the BIIF semi-finals. Although the Daggers lost to Division II BIIF champions St. Joseph, making it to the finals was enough to earn a berth in the state tournament. The Daggers took full advantage of their opportunity, defeating #1 seeded Roosevelt and later, Kapaa.
Pahoa received a hero’s welcome on their arrival home. As Hawaiian Airlines Flight 382 taxied on the Hilo Airport runway after landing, two Hawaii County firetrucks launched a shower of water into the air on either side of the returning plane.
Once inside the terminal, a huge crowd hugged the champs and adorned them with leis. Mayor Billy Kenoi welcomed the Daggers home with a proclamation, declaring March 7 as “Pahoa Daggers Day” in the County of Hawaii. Ekau and Fisher joined their teammates Sonny Miguel, Christopher Mendoza, William Wong Jr., Hamlet Walsh, John Byrd Jr., Kaohu Schweitzer, Harry Leopoldino, Lono Balai, Jared Peleiholani, and Osten Flores as honorees named in the proclamation.
In this video, first year coach Eric Yoshimura shares a few quick words about his proud state champion Daggers.