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Girls Hoops: All-Defense, Most Improved

by Paul Honda on March 30, 2014

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The Star-Advertiser Girls Basketball All-State selections for the 2013-14 season was published this morning. Here are some extra notes.

• All-Defense. There was a good number of defensive standouts, starting with Sarah Liva (Mililani). Punahou guard Hailey Motooka was second in the voting, followed by Alexis Pana (Hilo), Fieme‘a Hafoka (Lahainaluna) and Keau Fey (Punahou).

Other top vote-getters were Alohi Robins-Hardy (Kamehameha), Sharlei Graham-Bernisto (Hilo), Mich’lae Higa (Aiea), Kea Ryder (Kamehameha), Molina, Sharice Kawakami (Roosevelt) and Folau Hafoka (Lahainaluna).

• The panel also selected Moe as the most improved player of the year. Alexis Pana, Jeneva Toilolo (Farrington), Robins-Hardy and Maia Laboy (Maryknoll) also received high point totals.

• Coach of the year honors went to Punahou’s Kevin Velasco, with Daphne Honma (Honokaa) and Todd Rickard (Lahainaluna) tied for second. Patrick Basilio (Mililani), Hinano Higa (Roosevelt) and Randy Kauhane (Nanakuli) also received votes.

• Chanelle Molina was voted player of the year. As a sophomore, she is the youngest POY since Lia Galdeira, also from Konawaena, did it as a freshman.

• The voting for Molina and No. 2 Alohi Robins-Hardy in the Fab 15 results was separated by just one point. Robins-Hardy, at 6-foot-2, has made big strides on the basketball court in the past two years after being a dominant force in volleyball for practically all her life. BYU will enjoy her skills in both sports. Molina has already received a scholarship offer from UH and vows to keep getting better.

• Sarah Liva was repeat selection to the Fab 15. She was a Division-II standout last year at Hanalani, then transferred to Mililani to help the Lady Trojans make a strong run. It was a Fab 15 with more first-timers than repeaters. Molina, Robins-Hardy, Liva and Casey Poe did the repeating.

• The young talent emerging made it an interesting season. Tyra Moe (Punahou) did all the things a post player should do well, but her agility in Punahou’s fullcourt press and her passing skills in a balanced offense are what I remember, too. But not all the first-time All-State picks are underclassmen. (Moe is just a sophomore.) LaChae McColor had a superb season even as defenses focused on Moanalua’s high-scoring swingman. Hailey Motooka, one of the better defenders in the state, is another one who blossomed as a senior. Same with Penina Faumui of Farrington, Jade Botelho of ‘Iolani and Keau Fey of Punahou.

• Coolest uniform. Lahainaluna got some props for its road black uniforms. ‘Iolani, Maryknoll (road black), Honokaa and St. Francis also got some votes.

• Toughest gym. Maryknoll and Punahou split the top spot, with McKinley, Farrington and Sacred Hearts also getting votes.

• Best concession stand. McKinley got the nod this season, with the ‘Iolani Classic and Moanalua reeling in some points. Personally, I like the variety at Moanalua, though McKinley is consistent with those fried noodles and grilled chicken bowls. The food at the ‘Iolani Classic is outstanding. Just wish it was all season long.

• Game of the year. Maryknoll-Punahou in the playoffs was a top pick here, though the ILH semifinal between Kamehameha and Maryknoll was close. Lahainaluna-Maryknoll, Hilo-Roosevelt, King Kekaulike-Moanalua and Konawaena-Hilo (BIIF final) also got votes.

• Basketball brand. The switch from Spalding TF-1000 (moisture management) to Baden this season was a big change for players. On the whole, the response to this question was that coaches and players favored the Baden ball, but that’s more informal (me asking during interviews) than by vote. Nike and the Spalding TF-1000 aren’t hated basketballs. I think the Nike ball (and even the Wilson Evolution) would be as popular if they were required by leagues.

• 2014-15 prediction. The panel picked Punahou as next season’s early No. 1 team, followed by Lahainaluna, then Maryknoll, Konawaena and ‘Iolani in a tie for third. Kaiser, Hilo and Roosevelt also garnered votes. In D-II, Honokaa drew the top spot, followed by Hawaii Baptist, Kamehameha-Hawaii and Molokai.

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