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by Kaylee Noborikawa, Sports editor

Ryan Walker didn’t start, but he definitely ended the game. With three seconds left on the clock, Walker rebounded a missed free throw, dribbled down the court and sank a desperate three-point shot at the buzzer, lifting the HPU men’s basketball team over the University of Hawai‘i-Hilo, 65-64.
On Feb. 2, the Sea Warriors broke their five-game losing streak and stole their second conference win, beating the Vulcans at Kaiser High School’s gym. HPU lost to the Vulcans in its previous two encounters, but was determined not to let that happen on its home court.

HPU jumped to a quick lead in the first half, sinking nine three-point attempts, and led by as much as 15 points. The Vulcans remained in the game, shooting 66 percent at the free-throw line, and closed the gap to 40-31 by the end of the half. Both teams shot 50 percent for field goals.

“ I thought in the first half we really were sharp defensively,” said Head Coach Darren Vorderbruegge. “We came out really hungry.”

The Sea Warriors maintained the lead for most of the second half until UH-Hilo’s Rashad Bilal, converted on a layup to tie the game at 48. The score tied several times until the Vulcans pulled away with a three-point lead following two free throws by Bilal.

When it seemed as though the Sea Warriors would suffer their sixth straight loss, they put their faith in Walker, who came through with the game-winning shot just past the half-court line.

“ When it left my hand I thought it had a chance because it was in line, but I thought it was going to be short,” said Walker.

When Vorderbruegge was asked whether he thought the shot would go in, he replied, “No. It was lucky, but the thing you gotta realize is, what we did to get to that point. “

“ I give (UH-Hilo) credit. I thought they came out in the second half and were much more aggressive. We kept fighting though and that’s all we can ask,” Vorderbruegge added.

Four Sea Warriors ended the game in double digits, led by Rishi Kakad with 16.

Following a road trip to the mainland, the Sea Warriors will return to play their last two home games against the Chaminade Silverswords on Feb. 21-22 at Mid-Pacific Institute’s gym at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 will be senior night, honoring five seniors.
 

 

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