Here’s how I voted in this week’s Star-Advertiser Boys Basketball Top 10. Running low on time, so I’ll finish up this post tonight.
1. MS (21-3)
2. PUN (21-3)
3. FAR (21-4)
4. KS (17-8)
5. IOL (16-7)
6. KON (18-3)
7. HPA (13-3)
8. KLH (23-7)
9. STL (11-11)
10. BAL (17-3)
A longtime hoopaholic friend asked why I have Kamehameha at No. 4. I suppose it could be justifiable if I had the Warriors at No. 7 or 6. Or 5. Four? Well, I know I’m probably higher on KS than most voters; they were fifth in today’s Top 10.
For me, the work they did a two weeks ago, knocking off then-No. 1 Punahou and then-No. 3 ‘Iolani. A close (40-39) loss to Saint Louis sapped their momentum a bit, but that’s not a horrible loss. (STL is on my ballot and has been since preseason.) It’s a very fine line between the first five teams on my ballot.
Konawaena had been as high as No. 3 on my list until the loss at Kohala last weekend. Kohala is always a tough foe, especially at home. If you’ve ever driven to Kapaau, you know what I mean. You might get there a bit weary from a 50- or 100-mile drive, and the Cowboys — when they’re really good — come right at you with fastbreak after fastbreak. That’s what they did to Konawaena, scoring instantly off turnovers.
For me, Konawaena is the kind of team that travels well because Coach Donald Awa depends on his team’s defense and halfcourt execution. They like to run, but it starts with defense, and the seniors on that team, like Brandon Awa and Jonah Bredeson, take pride in it. They’ve endured and succeeded for the most part in BIIF play, so it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the season plays out. They’ve got HPA at home this Saturday.
That creates a dilemma of sorts. The Wildcat girls “host” a state-tourney quarterfinal against the Mililani-Radford winner on Saturday at Kealakehe High School. Tip-off is 6 p.m. Coach Bobbie Awa’s son is Brandon, and husband Donald is the boys coach, and their game with HPA is back at Konawaena — Senior Night — with a 7:30 p.m. start.
HHSAA executive director Chris Chun is optimistic that the Konawaena girls game will still draw a healthy crowd, and I agree. And I hope. After all these years, getting to play a “home” game in the state tourney is a huge gift, really. I hope things work out for the boys and girls supporters at Konawaena that day. Maybe an early start for the boys game? We’ll see.
Much as I like Baldwin, a tall, physical, patient team, the Bears keep struggling (by their own high standard) to dominate the MIL. With the MIL having such a spotty history aside from Baldwin in boys hoops, it’s not easy to give the Bears the benefit of the doubt. (Unlike the BIIF.) It’s a washing machine kind of season in just about every league. Things will sort out eventually.
As for Saint Louis at No. 9 on my ballot, they’ve earned that in my book from way back in preseason. (They’re at No. 10 in the Top 10.) They had some nice, quality wins in nonconference play, and I can understand the fans who wonder if STL deserves to be in there. It’s been awhile since they notched a marquee win. But as far as simply competing against top competition, there are more question marks than answers among the rest. The Bubblies.
All the teams on my Bubbly list can beat each other. And they have. Kahuku seemed poised to make a move higher recently, but a few losses, including one to Roosevelt, have leveled out the Red Raiders for the time being. Roosevelt is probably the most improved team since the start of preseason, losing five in a row, and lately winning five of its last six.
Waiakea? They have a Saint Louis-like quality, having played so many quality teams, but still looking for that signature win. It’s tough to complain about a 13-5 team, but once they make it to the state tourney — I’d be surprised if they didn’t — a whole new chapter opens up for the Warriors.