This week’s ballot for the Star-Advertiser boys basketball Top 10 was not simple at all.
Punahou, yes. Not hard. Still unbeaten. A convincing win over Saint Louis. No argument there.
‘Iolani? A solid win over a good Kamehameha squad. So much balance. Physicality. Perimeter shooting. Depth.
Baldwin at No. 3? No, I have not lost my mind. The Bears gave ‘Iolani and Punahou serious battles in defeat. They’ve beaten everybody else, including a pretty good King Kekaulike squad. They’ve beaten Farrington, too.
Kamehameha could be at No. 3. A Baldwin-KS game would be awesome. The Warriors were on a big run before the loss at ‘Iolani.
Farrington without its bigs is a very good team. With Mason Semisi and Manly Williams, they could be a great team. A preseason win over Maryknoll showed that. Then the Govs had to adjust while the bigs were on a trip to Samoa. Winning with a smaller lineup took time to learn. In the OIA East, they’ll keep running and gunning. They scored 73 (Anuenue) and 83 (Castle) in league-opening wins.
Maryknoll got a good challenge from Mid-Pacific in a 63-55 win last week to open ILH play. There isn’t a walkover game in ILH D-I this season. It’s going to be tough, sometimes brutal. The Spartans, with gunners Josh Burnett and Kaleb Gilmore, make it highly watchable.
Konawaena at 7? The Wildcats showed plenty in a comeback win at Kalaheo a few weeks ago. At that point, the Mustangs were healthy and strong, so it was a very good victory for the visitors. Jonah Bredeson is a tough, tough matchup at 6-1 with strength and a will to finish at the basket, though he can nail the 3-ball pretty good.
Saint Louis? I’m still giving the Crusaders some weight for their preseason success. But the last three spots on my ballot are very wobbly. That’s why University is at No. 9. They played well last week, but this week, not so good. The Jr. ‘Bows have already lost to Damien by 18.
McKinley is sailing along in OIA East play. The Tigers have speedy swingmen (Dan Villejo, Macjun Otarra) who put constant pressure on opposing teams in transition. Coach Duane Omori’s team has lost only to Saint Louis and University, and they beat Maryknoll early in preseason. (Burnett sat out of that game.) I look back now and the Tigers probably should be higher on my list.
There are a bunch of worth teams that are near at the 10 spot. Mid-Pacific is playing well under first-year coach Dwight Holiday. Kaiser has won three in a row, including nail-biters over Mililani and Kahuku. Waiakea is in the equation even with losses to Hilo, Mililani and Maryknoll. Those three defeats were by a combined total of 13 points.
Hawaii Prep was impressive in a close loss to Farrington three weeks ago, not so much in a loss to Punahou II the next night. But Ka Makani are back on track after wins over Hilo and Pahoa last week.
Kalaheo? I expect to see this young team back in the Top 10 eventually. The absence of guard Alec MacLeod (injury) is a key loss. Roosevelt was opportunistic and won at Kalaheo 46-29 over the weekend.
Between Kalani, Roosevelt and Hilo (and more), there are a lot of slightly-off-the-radar teams that are a good watch.
Damien! The Monarchs have beaten St. Francis and University in the past week. Kapi‘ina King had 20 points in the win over UHS on Tuesday. The quality wins aren’t an automatic path onto my ballot — they’ve lost to Moanalua, Kalaheo, Punahou — but with five wins in a row, Damien is playing good basketball, period.