Hoopbook: How the state’s best fare against Top 10

Jordan DeShawn Hepting and the Punahou Buffanblu are 9-1 against top-10 teams this season. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Stopping short of Sagarin ratings and slightly more modernized forms of analytics, gauging high school hoops teams now — at roughly halfway through the season — can seem difficult.

But the congestion involved with examining more than a dozen quality boys basketball teams, and perhaps as many as two dozen, can be simplified. One way is looking at a team’s win-loss mark against opponents who are or have been ranked in the Star-Advertiser Top 10.

There are sometimes flaws, like a lack of sample size when it comes to Saint Louis’ very slim schedule thus far. On the whole, though, it’s worth a look-see.

Saint Louis Crusaders
vs. Top 10: 2-0 (1.000)
Top 10 wins: St. Francis, St. Francis
Top 10 losses:

Skinny: At 8-0, including 2-0 in Interscholastic League of Honolulu play, there is no other prominent Division I boys team that has played fewer preseason games. That made it rough for coaches and media on the Top 10 voting panel to get a sense of who the Crusaders are. The two wins, including last week in ILH play, were over No. 5 St. Francis. The first, a 60-56 OT game, came with the state’s leading scorer, Saints’ senior Kameron Ng, sidelined by injury. On Saturday, Ng played, scored 21 points, but Saint Louis prevailed 64-61 on the Saints’ home court.

And 1: Two wins against ranked teams isn’t enough sample size. The Crusaders also have narrow margins of victory over a rebuilding Kamehameha-Hawaii squad (65-62) and D-II Hawaii Prep (59-53), a team that knocked off Moanalua at the ‘Iolani Classic. Saint Louis also struggled to get past Kauai (55-52).

Punahou Buffanblu
vs. Top 10: 9-1 (.900)
Top 10 wins: Kalaheo, Mid-Pacific, Kalaheo, Kailua, Kahuku, St. Francis, Kalaheo, Damien, Mid-Pacific
Top 10 losses: Damien

Skinny: Wow. There have been many coaches in the ILH who would have been content — and more comfortable — just playing halfcourt basketball with minimal transition and pace. Punahou could do that. Pound the rock inside to bigs like Duke Clemens, Maninoa Tufono, even the long wings like Kaulana Makaula. The Buffanblu could stick with halfcourt man defense like the traditional ILH program, and win every game 48-29.

Instead, Coach Darren Matsuda subscribes to another algorithm. He puts as many of his players to work as possible very game. More possessions, more shots, more defensive opportunities. And since the Buffanblu love to pressure the ball fullcourt, that gives speed demons like Peyton Macapulay plenty of passing lanes to dip into.

The only possible weak links on this team would have been from the perimeter and the halfcourt game. But they’ve hit from deep often enough to keep defenses honest, and they’ve got backcourt leadership when games slow down. Kai Nafarette continues to make the right decision, and the Macapulay/Nafarette combo has been seamless.

And 1: The early loss to the Monarchs in the Damien Invitational final set their motivational fuel on fire. Punahou has won 14 in a row, including a decisive 77-58 win over the same Monarchs two weeks ago.

Damien Monarchs
vs. Top 10: 6-2 (.750)
Top 10 wins: St. Francis, Kalaheo, Punahou, Kailua, Maryknoll, Kamehameha
Top 10 losses: St. Francis, Punahou

Skinny: That’s eight games against ranked teams, and there were no doubters from the start when it came to the voters. Now? The case for Damien at No. 1 is real. They’ve split with the teams they have losses to. They have six Top 10 wins, second only to Punahou, and three of those opponents have been or remain in the top five.

And 1: Unless University, Hawaii Baptist or any other ILH D-II team jumps into the Top 10, Damien won’t face another ranked team until the state tournament. And even then, that might not happen until the semifinals or final. This would’ve been a great time for Damien to be in D-I, but nobody back in June prophesied this, including Coach Alvin Stephenson.

Maryknoll Spartans
vs. Top 10: 4-1 (.800)
Top 10 wins: Crater (OR), Kamehameha, St. Francis, ‘Iolani
Top 10 losses: Damien

Skinny: The Spartans had another light schedule in terms of traditional powerhouses, and it was a crescendo as they faced tougher teams in the latter half of preseason. Yes, the loss to Damien stunned Spartan faithful, knowing that Maryknoll won’t get another chance to redeem the loss. (They shot less than 30 percent from the free-throw line that night, prompting Coach Kelly Grant to install super-duper emphasis on FTs at practice with tremendous results.)

Percentage-wise, among teams with at least five Top 10 games, only Punahou is higher than Maryknoll.

‘Iolani Raiders
vs. Top 10: 6-5 (.545)
Top 10 wins: St. Francis, Kalaheo, Moanalua, Servite (Calif.)*, Diamond Bar (Calif.)*
Top 10 losses: Montverde (Fla.)*, West Linn (Ore.)*, Pleasant Grove (Utah)*, Highland (Calif.)*, Maryknoll

Skinny: This is not the usual list of Top-10 losses. Not even close. That 5-5 mark is skewed in that sense, and voters haven’t been lost on that fact, voting the Raiders No. 2 last week. But the loss at home to Maryknoll will have an effect.

And 1: At 9-5 overall, the Raiders are 4-0 against unranked teams. In those wins, they have an average margin of more than 20 points.

Kailua Surfriders
vs. Top 10: 5-6 (.455)
Top 10 wins: Kamehameha, Kalaheo, Mid-Pacific, Moanalua, Kahuku
Top 10 losses: St. Francis, ‘Iolani, Punahou, Damien, Oak Ridge*, St. Francis. Also: Baldwin, Waiakea

Skinny: The Surfriders have been highly competitive, and like the rest of the teams ranging from No. 5 to No. 10 and beyond, are consistently inconsistent against Top 10 foes.

And 1: Only a handful or so of teams have played a tougher schedule than the Surfriders. That should help in the long run.

Lahainaluna Lunas
vs. Top 10: 2-4 (.333)
Top 10 wins: Kalaheo, St. Francis
Top 10 losses: Kalaheo, Punahou, Damien, Mission Viejo (Calif.)*. Also: Leilehua

Skinny: Every season, Coach Jason Justus and his team work and grind and keep getting better. This group doesn’t have the height of previous teams, and some key players graduated, but the Lunas are again playing the best basketball in the MIL.

St. Francis Saints
vs. Top 10: 4-9 (.308)
Top 10 wins: Moanalua, Damien, Kahuku, Kailua
Top 10 losses: Damien, ‘Iolani, Kalaheo, Punahou, Saint Louis, La Lumiere*, Mission Viejo*, Maryknoll, Saint Louis. Also: Kapolei, Lahainaluna.

Skinny: Of all the teams in this tier, the Saints get more out of their personnel and limited size. The return of 6-3 center Makua Marumoto is a welcome boost, but the lingering ankle injury of G Kameron Ng is the biggest factor.

And 1: St. Francis (14-11 overall) is 0-2 in ILH D-I play.

Kamehameha Warriors
vs. Top 10: 2-5 (.286)
Top 10 wins: Kahuku, Kalaheo
Top 10 losses: Kailua, Moanalua, Maryknoll, Damien, Mid-Pacific

Skinny: The Warriors are 9-0 against unranked teams and field one of the youngest rosters in varsity hoops, let alone Top 10 teams.

And 1: Patience is key.

Moanalua Na Menehune
vs. Top 10: 1-5 (.167)
Top 10 wins: Kamehameha
Top 10 losses: Mid-Pacific, St. Francis, ‘Iolani, Pleasant Grove (Utah)*, Kailua. Also: Farrington

Skinny: They compete and compete, but the lack of interior production catches up eventually. Then again, this has been one tough schedule to date.

And 1: Moanalua is 8-1 against unranked teams.

Kahuku Red Raiders
vs. Top 10: 1-4 (.200)
Top 10 wins: Kalaheo
Top 10 losses: Kamehameha, Punahou, St. Francis, Kailua. Also: Konawaena, Kaiser

Skinny: Ethan Erickson is a double-double monster this season.

And 1: The Red Raiders are 9-2 against unranked teams.

Kalaheo Mustangs
vs. Top 10: 1-8 (.111)
Top 10 wins: St. Francis
Top 10 losses: Damien, Punahou, ‘Iolani, Punahou, Kahuku, Kailua, Punahou, Kamehameha. Also: Kalani, Farrington

Skinny: The Mustangs have given No. 1 Punahou its toughest battles in defeat (81-79, 77-71). And yet, Kalaheo has been riddled with just enough injuries to lose a whole bunch of close games.

And 1: Kalaheo is 9-2 against unranked teams.

Farrington Governors
vs. Top 10: 2-3 (.400)
Top 10 wins: Moanalua, Kalaheo
Top 10 losses: Maryknoll, ‘Iolani, Mid-Pacific. Also: Leilehua, Campbell, Roosevelt

Skinny: The classic post-Christmas wonder squad. That’s what the Govs are. They were up. They were down. Injured, injured, injured. Even standout point center Raefe McEnroe hurt himself accidentally at home and missed some time. But now, the Govs are scary good after outclutching then-No. 7 Moanalua and No. 9 Kalaheo in a span of one week. Not bad for a D-II team.

And 1: The movement away from the ball is a vital difference between last year’s zone offense and this year. The Govs are a much better passing team now, and McEnroe’s vision and unselfishness are a big reason why. But if he doesn’t score consistently in double figures, Farrington isn’t distinguishable in a crowded OIA East.

Hawaii Prep Ka Makani
vs. Top 10: 1-3 (.250)
Top 10 wins: Mid-Pacific
Top 10 losses: Saint Louis, Sierra Canyon (Calif.)*, Moanalua. Also: Roosevelt

Skinny: The win over MPI at the ‘Iolani Classic set the tone for Ka Makani. The BIIF is wide, wide open regardless of division.

And 1: Will someone grab at least 10 rebounds every single game?

Mid-Pacific Owls
vs. Top 10: 2-6 (.333)
Top 10 wins: Moanalua, Kamehameha
Top 10 losses: Punahou, Westchester,* Kailua, Compton*, Western*, Punahou. Also: Hawaii Prep

Skinny: The Owls played just nine games in preseason. Including two ILH games, they’ve played eight Top 10 teams already. That’s a crazy hard schedule.

And 1: The 59-53 win over Kamehameha on Friday rights the ship for the Owls.

Konawaena Wildcats
vs. Top 10: 1-0 (1.000)
Top 10 wins: Kahuku
Top 10 losses: none. Also: Baldwin, Hilo, Keaau, Parker

Skinny: The young Wildcats have room to grow, and in time, more hoopheads will realize that a 52-mile bus ride up a mountain to play a much improved Parker team in their tiny, loud barn-ish gym is not easy.

And 1: The road trip to Pahala on Friday is another dangerous challenge. Ka‘u nearly beat Honokaa over the weekend.

Roosevelt Rough Riders
vs. Top 10: 0-3
Top 10 wins:
Top 10 losses: ‘Iolani, West Linn (Ore.)*, St. Francis. Also: Kaiser, Campbell, Kalani

Skinny: The good news is that senior guard Micah Visoria is back from injury. Finding their rhythm and consistency, however, will take time.

And 1: On deck, a visit to Moanalua on Wednesday.

Waiakea Warriors
vs. Top 10: 1-2
Top 10 wins: Kailua
Top 10 losses: St. Francis, Kahuku

Skinny: The Warriors have the talent to take the BIIF, but will it be enough to prepare them for the state tourney?

And 1: Waiakea lost to Kahuku in Honolulu. Konawaena beat Kahuku on Maui.

Kalani Falcons
vs. Top 10: 0-1
Top 10 wins:
Top 10 losses: Kamehameha. Also: Leilehua, Kapolei

Skinny: The Falcons are 10-3 overall (3-0 OIA) but losses to Leilehua and a Kapolei team that played without starting guard Ja’Shon Carter, slight blemishes on an otherwise sterling resume.

And 1: A Friday matchup with Moanalua will be an intriguing showdown.

Kaiser Cougars
vs. Top 10: 1-4
Top 10 wins: Kahuku
Top 10 losses: St. Francis, Maryknoll, Damien, Kalaheo. Also: Punahou II, Radford, Hilo, Hawaii Baptist

Skinny: Kaiser and Farrington, not exactly joined at the hip, but very similar. Both are in D-II, competing hard against their D-I peers in the OIA East. The win over Kahuku on Saturday is a signature win.

And 1: Thursday’s game at Kailua is another great test.

Kapolei Hurricanes
vs. Top 10: 1-6
Top 10 wins: St. Francis
Top 10 losses: Maryknoll, Kamehameha, Damien, Punahou, Kamehameha, Kalaheo. Also: Farrington.

Skinny: Getting PG Ja’Shon Carter back from injury is crucial.

And 1: The ‘Canes are 2-0 in OIA West play. Reserves got more playing time during preseason while Carter was out. It’s a win-win situation from here on out, potentially.

University Jr. Bows
vs. Top 10: 0-2
Top 10 wins:
Top 10 losses: Kahuku, Damien. Also: Kapolei, Kalani, Konawaena, Kauai, Campbell

Skinny: Any team with Leif Fautanu at center is capable of anything come playoff time. He’s averaging more than 19 points per game.

And 1: If the Jr. Bows continue to dominate ILH D-II with the exception of giant-killer Damien, that would be enough to qualify for the state tourney.

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