After all their early success, the Damien Monarchs still have their doubters.
Division II Damien, unbeaten at 7-0, victorious over seven D-I teams including defending D-I state champion Punahou (last Monday), defending D-II state champ St. Francis and OIA D-I title contender Kalaheo (Pete Smith Classic final), is the No. 1 team in the Star-Advertiser Boys Basketball Top 10 today. It’s the first time Damien has been No. 1 in the boys hoops rankings since the first Star-Advertiser poll in 2010.
The Monarchs garnered six of 10 possible first-place votes, but had just a three-point edge over No. 2 Punahou. Damien will soon run out of D-I competition, much the same way St. Francis plowed through opponents last year. In 2017-18, then-D-II St. Francis upset several Top 10 foes and went on to capture the D-II state crown.
However, Damien is taking it one step further. Last year’s D-II state runner-up has yet to lose a game. There are four games left on the preseason schedule, including a visit to Kapolei on Tuesday. Next week, the Monarchs face Kailua in the opening round of the St. Francis Classic. Then, it’ll be ILH D-II season.
Punahou bounced back from the loss to Damien with a title run through the James Alegre Invitational, beating Leilehua (81-29), Kalaheo (63-48) and Mid-Pacific (64-43).
The flavor of the season’s first boys basketball poll is distinctly ILH. The first five teams are all private schools from that league. Maryknoll (5-0) and ‘Iolani (3-0) could make a case for No. 1. The Spartans have wins over Pearl City, McKinley, Kapolei, Kaimuki and Farrington. They will visit Kaiser on Saturday, then enter the Kaimuki Invitational next week.
‘Iolani opened the book on a new season with a sweep of competition at the Surfrider Holiday Hoops Classic. The Raiders overpowered Waipahu, Roosevelt and St. Francis.
The Saints of St. Francis played without leading scorer and standout playmaker Kameron Ng, who injured an ankle in the first half of a semifinal win over Kailua. St. Francis (4-2), at No. 5, is just two points ahead of Kahuku, which hasn’t played a game yet.
The Red Raiders host No. 8 Kamehameha tonight. The latest rumor floating in gyms around the island is that Kahuku has a 6-foot-10 player from Tonga on the roster. Kahuku coach Brandyn Akana dismissed the rumor.
Kalaheo (5-2) is at No. 7. The Mustangs’ losses are to Damien and Punahou, and they have won their each of the other five games by double-digit margins with one exception. Kalaheo outlasted Lahainaluna 46-38 in the Alegre Invitational opening round.
Mid-Pacific, which ousted Moanalua and Radford by an average margin of 14.5 points, lost to Punahou 54-43 in the Alegre final. The Owls open the season at No. 9 in the rankings.
Moanalua posted wins over Honokaa and Leilehua after its loss to MPI. Na Menehune are No. 10 in the poll, just two points ahead of Kailua.
Nine teams, including Kailua, also received votes.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10
|Updated: Jan. 23|
|4.||Saint Louis (1)||98|