WAILUKU - The difference was clear by looking at the rosters. A glance at the schedules gave some insight as well.
The Kau High School boys basketball team, led by six seniors and playing its seventh game of the season, throttled St. Anthony 80-37 Thursday night on opening-day action in the 42nd annual St. Anthony Invitational Tournament at War Memorial Gym.
St. Anthony was playing its first game for first-time head coach John Werner and has no seniors on the roster and two freshmen who started in the game.
Kau’s Randall Watson (left and Lehre Vidal battle for a loose ball with St. Anthony’s Christian Altura in the first quarter of a St. Anthony Boys Invitational first-round game on Thursday at War Memorial Gym.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The differences showed all night.
"They are pretty scrappy," Kau coach Ravel Kaupu Jr. said of St. Anthony. "They have got a pretty good shooter in No. 30 and the lefty is pretty good, too."
The lefty is sophomore Michael Fernandez, who led St. Anthony with 11 points. Preston Masanda is No. 30 and he added nine points, while Kailan Pacheco, one of the freshman starters, chipped in eight.
Kau, which improved to 4-3 on its preseason slate, jumped out to a 21-9 advantage at the end of the first quarter and pushed the lead to 41-20 at the half. At the end of the third quarter, the bulge for the Big Island team was 66-31.
Randall Watson led Kau - whose mascot also is Trojans - with 14 points, Gregory Javar and Chance Emmsley-Ah Yee each had 13, and Jansen Candaroma added 10.
"We are coming around right now," Kaupu said. "I don't want to sound too cocky about it, but I finally have confidence in seeing these guys play like I never had before."
"We have a lot of young guys and we're just excited to get going," Werner said. "Everyone got some playing time tonight and the guys are just getting experience, varsity basketball. So, we have a young team, but we have a lot of talent this year so we are excited to see where we go from there."
Werner, who was an assistant for St. Anthony last season, said he's also learning.
Werner said that the difference in game experience showed for Kau.
"You can definitely tell," he said. "When you come out on the court, their press is quick, they get everything going. They have been through here, they are experienced. I look at them and say, 'That is where we can be.' We get their experience and we can be right there with them."
St. Anthony will count on the experience in its backcourt duo of Masanda and Fernandez, who both got significant playing time last season.
"Preston and Michael are our most experienced players, so early on in the season we are going to look for them for leadership on the court," Werner said. "They are the team captains and they have been doing a great job at practice this year, just kind of getting everybody ready for what the big show is like."
Pacheco also impressed his coach.
"He had three or four really good looks on great feeds from the guards," Werner said. "That is the kind of wide-open basketball that we are really looking forward to playing this year."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com