Pupule’s girls hoops ballot 1/27

by Paul Honda on January 28, 2014

Pupule’s girls hoops ballot 1/28

Pupule’s ballot
BKG 1/27/14
1. LAH (27-1)
2. PUN (12-2)
3, KONA (22-3)
4. ROOS (14-2)
5. KS (13-4)
6. MS (17-3)
7. HILO (17-5)
8. MIL (20-2)
9. IOL (11-9)
10. HON (21-10)

At the top, the only difference for me is head to head. Lahainaluna edged Punahou 51-50 at the Kaiser Invitational. Both teams have improved substantially since. Punahou later lost to Maryknoll, then beat the Lady Spartans at Maryknoll. Lahainaluna has a nonconference loss to Kamehameha, which had PG Tiare Kanoa healthy at the time. It’s a close call, head to head is my main criteria.

At No. 3, Konawaena. The difference between Konawaena at the start of November and now may be the most drastic of any state-title contender aside from the Kanoa-less Kamehameha Warriors. Since the start of preseason, Konawaena guard/forward Chanelle Molina has embraced the role that is essential. She understands fully now that some nights she can be a facilitator and score just 15 points, and other nights, she might carry the load and pour in 30, 35, 40 points. It’s not an easy responsibility, but she’s grown into the role and is bending the usual expectation. After all, even Lia Galdeira was a team-first player who rarely looked to score for the sake of scoring. (That’s right, she would’ve averaged 35-40 ppg if she were asked to. Maybe. She was that unselfish.)

In this situation, the Wildcats are simply not deep. At all. There are enough good, solid pieces for Coach Bobbie Awa to craft another championship run, and nobody does it as well as she does with limited resources. But right now, nobody can beat Konawaena aside from the top two teams on my list. And that’s no guarantee.

You may have noticed that Mililani is way down my list at No. 8. This isn’t a knock on the 20 wins they’ve posted. They’ve overachieved, if anything, and earned their spot in the OIA Red championship game, which is on Wednesday night at McKinley. (It has been moved away from Radford for TV purposes.)

Sarah Liva is unstoppable in the low post and is a reliable defensive rebounder. Her hops, like Molina’s, have improved thanks to volleyball. But Mililani’s Achilles heel was exposed in the semifinals of the OIA Red playoffs when Moanalua — unranked Moanalua — used tight man pressure to make the Lady Trojans wobble. The game was really up for grabs in the fourth quarter, but the length of time that Mililani needed to pull out the win was astounding. It said a lot about Moanalua’s grit and heart.

It also said something about Mililani’s erratic ballhandling in that game, at times folding against the pressure. If they can’t get the ball to Liva consistently, her offensive output becomes very limited. They could have Liva step out to the arc to help against tough pressure — Roosevelt is going to bring the heat in the title game — but doing that would just add another job to Liva’s list of to-do things. She can do it, and if asked, she certainly will. But having your best player yo-yo from the high post area to the low post, and possibly help with breaking fullcourt pressure, plus all the defense and rebounding … it’s do-able for one night.

I just don’t see that working through an entire state tournament. The good news for Mililani is that it’s no longer a three- (or four-) night tourney on consecutive nights. But should Mililani get to the semifinals and win, the final would be the next night. Either they right the ship and take care of the ballhandling/turnover issues, or Liva gets worn out before state-title night. We shall see.

You may have noticed that Roosevelt is at No. 4 on my ballot. They’re more balanced and playing very good basketball right now. The ball moves, the offense has chemistry, and they apply tough pressure all over the court defensively. Liva could be kryptonite to the Rough Riders, but on the whole, they are the better team.

Kamehameha and Maryknoll are also exceptional defensive teams, but offensively, they are prone to ruts. The Warriors have a gamebreaker in Aloha Robins-Hardy. When she’s on, there’s nobody quite like her, a 6-foot-1 swingman who can drive hard to the hole or swish a step-back 3. The Spartans are quick and feisty, but don’t have a go-to scorer quite in the mold of Molina or Robins-Hardy.

Hilo is tough, has a great player in Aliyah Pana, but is small. Without a considerable post player above 5-6, they’re doing this on grit and execution. Pana carried a big load last year at the state tourney, but with defenses geared to stop her on the drive and, when necessary, double-team her, it’ll be different this year at states.

Again, Honokaa is my No. 10. They’ve lost to a ton of teams who are in the Top 10 (released in this morning’s Star-Advertiser), but they’ve also posted wins over significant teams like Moanalua. So the Dragons get my nod. Barely.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

3Sec January 31, 2014 at 7:40 am

Last year Lahainaluna had a first round bye and got “clobbered” by Iolani 60-39 in the second round. Leilehua had a first round by and got “pounded” by Hilo 66-40 in the second round. Konawaena had a first round bye and “slipped” past Mililani 40-38 in the second round. Kamehameha did well throughout the tournament and won. This year, does Lahainaluna deserve #1 (easiest road to the championship) and a bye in the tournament, when they have not played anyone in the regular season? In the preseason, they lost to Kamehameha and beat Punahou in November by 1 point. In my opinion not #1. Punahou at #2, yah maybe. But it would decide on the outcome of the last game with Maryknoll. So far these 2 teams split wins, so this would be the tie breaker. Konawaena #3. No Way. Again, who have they played. Yes they may NOW have the best overall guard in the State in Molina (since Kam’s Kanoa is out), but in the preseason they lost to Kamehameha and Mililani. Roosevelt #4? I guess you have to, since they won the OIA. If they don’t get the easy match ups in the tournament (due to the rankings), they’ll be the first team with a first round bye gone. Something to note; Last year their were 6 OIA teams and none got past the second round (Mililani won one game, all five other teams lost). 2 ILH teams one which won the title and the other made it to the semi finals. 2 Maui teams that did not make it past the second round. 2 Big Island teams, which went pretty far in the tournament. I’m all about spreading the wealth, but come on. Because you have to put 6 OIA teams in the tournament, you not putting the best against the best. If you look at the ILH, teams like Pun, Maryknoll and Kam, Their is so much “parity”, anyone could win on any given night. I believe if Kam was included in this tournament, even without Kanoa, they would have legitimate chance to win the tournament. Teams in the OIA in this tournament (Kailua, Leilehua, Moanaloa, etc.) are just filling spots. This tournament is not the best of the best. The undeserving are invited. Kailua lost to HBA, a division 2 school. Leilehua lost to Sacred Hearts who won 1 game in the ILH. Moanaloa lost to Kam and Punahou by nearly 40 points each. COME ON MAN!!!!

TJ January 31, 2014 at 7:59 am

should be a great state tournament :) I’m glad it’s over two weeks

BballFan February 5, 2014 at 1:18 am

3Sec u must be a Big Fan of Punahou or ILH Teams, why r u hating on Lahainaluna & Konawaena, as far as the seeding goes, it seems that the seeding fell in to place where it should be so just sit & relax & let the Games Begin, as for the best overall guard NOW & Before has’nt it always been Molina being the best in the state .. Good Luck to ALL the Teams & Please No more HATERS

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