The Division I brackets of the Snapple/HHSAA Boys Basketball State Championships were released almost immediately after the OIA finals were completed on Wednesday night. The entertaining Moanalua-Kailua D-I title game concluded at roughly 8:55 p.m. The bracket was released on the HHSAA site before 9:30.
How closely did this year’s bracket simulate last year’s pairings? Let’s remember that Kalaheo upset Kahuku in the 2018 OIA championship game, and that has a bearing on the remaining pairings. More so with the by-laws that keep league champions and runners-up in opposite sub-brackets. This year, with three state berths allotted to the ILH and only five to the OIA, this year’s bracket will look more like next year’s layout that last year’s. St. Francis will leave, but Damien will take the Saints’ place in the ILH D-I field.
OIA 3 (Kapolei) @ MIL 2 (Kamehameha-Maui).
> Winner vs. #1 seed Maryknoll.
OIA 6 (Kailua) @ OIA 2 (Kahuku).
> Winner vs. #4 seed Kamehameha-Hawaii.
OIA 5 (Moanalua) @ BIIF 2 (Konawaena).
> Winner vs. #2 seed Kalaheo.
OIA 4 (McKinley) @ ILH 2 (Punahou).
> Winner vs. #3 seed Lahainaluna.
Top seed Maryknoll eliminated Kapolei, then lost to Kahuku in the semifinals. Punahou ousted McKinley, Lahainaluna and Moanalua before routing Kahuku for the state title.
OIA 3 (Kapolei) @ MIL 2 (Baldwin).
> Winner vs. #1 seed Maryknoll.
OIA 5 (Kalaheo) @ OIA 2 (Kailua).
> Winner vs. #4 seed (Waiakea).
ILH 3 (‘Iolani) @ BIIF 2 (Hilo).
> Winner @ #2 seed Moanalua.
OIA 4 (Kahuku) @ ILH 2 (Punahou).
> Winner vs. #3 seed Lahainaluna.
The ’19 bracket is generally the same with some obvious differences.
1. The sites, Moanalua and McKinley basically swapped sub-brackets.
2. Without a sixth team from the OIA, the lowest entry (Kalaheo) is slotted to play OIA 2 (Kailua). Just so happens this is a great Windward side rivalry.
3. Instead of the old OIA 5 going to the Big Island, it’s now the ILH 3 (‘Iolani), which will go to Hilo.
4. Should Kapolei beat Baldwin and Punahou get past Kahuku, we will have two quarterfinal matchups identical to last year: Maryknoll-Kapolei and Lahainaluna-Punahou.
In Division II, there is no bracket out yet. The HHSAA is waiting for Saturday afternoon’s battle at Klum Gym for the only state berth still vacant. University hosts Hawaii Baptist for second place in the ILH.
In case any hoophead missed it yesterday, here’s what the ILH state-qualifier list of the past decade (and change) looks like.
ILH D-II state-tourney qualifiers
2018: Champion St. Francis, Damien. State champion: St. Francis.
2017: Champion St. Francis, Le Jardin. State champion: St. Francis.
2016: Champion St. Francis, University. State champion: University.
2015: Champion Hawaii Baptist, Damien. State champion: Kaiser.
2014: Champion St. Francis, Damien. State champion: Hawaii Prep.
2013: Champion St. Francis, University. State champion: St. Francis.
2012: Champion St. Francis, Hanalani. State champion: Kalaheo.
2011: Champion Island Pacific, University. State champion: Farrington.
2010: Champion University, AOP. State champion: Pahoa.
2009: Champion Hawaii Baptist, University, Hanalani, Word of Life. State champion: Kailua.
2008: Champion University, Hawaii Baptist. State champion: Farrington.
Closing the book
At one point, there were 19 boys teams that received at least one point in the weekly Star-Advertiser Top 10 voting. Here’s a look at the these teams that have turned in their uniforms.
>> St. Francis (22-17, 6-6 iLH regular season)
vs. Top 10: 12-17
The nearly-miraculous Saints had stronger personnel last year as they won their second D-II state title in a row. But their metamorphosis this season, well, the iron-sharpens-iron proverb was never more true in prep hoops. This is not an argument for a fourth ILH state berth, but I wouldn’t argue against it, either.
>> Mililani (13-9, 9-1 OIA West)
vs. Top 10: 0-8
Year 1 under Garrett Gabriel was quite a revelation for the Trojans, who turned into one of the best defensive units in the league. They went 13-1 against unranked teams, so the next step forward is in sight. The pain is real. They were at home for the quarterfinal matchup with Kahuku and lost 39-29. They were at home again in the fifth-place game with Kalaheo, and lost 36-25 with a state berth at stake. The defensive end is a lock. Developing more offense could turn Mililani into the next West wonder.
>> Kalani (15-9, 7-4 OIA East)
vs. Top 10: 3-5
The Falcons lost four games in a five-game span during the regular season, including road games at Kahuku, McKinley and Kaiser. Kalani then knocked off Kailua and Farrington, both at home. After ousting Campbell in the opening round of the OIA playoffs, the Falcons went on the road, took OIA West 1 Kapolei to overtime and lost 37-35. That proved to be pivotal. A win would’ve sent the Falcons into the state tournament. They came home to play Kalaheo in a fifth-place game for the final state berth, and were soundly beaten. Not once in four regular-season losses, or in any of their 23 previous games did Kalani allow more than 58 points. Kalaheo came through with the win at Kalani, one of the league’s most consistent teams through D-II, through the East. Kalani needed that win to advance and play for the last state berth (against Mililani).
>> Roosevelt (15-10, 7-4 OIA East)
vs. Top 10: 3-6
The Rough Riders wound up on the ultimate bubble, a team with wins over Hawaii Prep, Farrington (twice), Kalaheo, and close losses to St. Francis, Kailua and Kahuku. One more East win, and they play Kailua instead of Moanalua, a team that beat Roosevelt twice. They still had a shot, but lost at Mililani, probably the worst matchup of the West teams. The Trojans excel at man defense, smothering high scorers like Ja’Shon Carter (Kapolei) and Micah Visoria.
>> Saint Louis (10-10, 3-8 ILH)
vs, Top 10: 4-9
How tough was the ILH? All four of the Crusaders’ Top 10 wins were against ILH teams, including twice over St. Francis. Those three teams did not qualify for the state tourney.
>> Kamehameha (13-13, 2-9 ILH)
vs. Top 10: 4-13
The Warriors’ Top 10 wins were over Kahuku, Kalaheo, Maryknoll and Saint Louis. Three of them are in the state tourney. The one consolation is that this is one of the youngest lineups in the state, returning most of the roster in 2019-20 while ILH powerhouses Maryknoll, Punahou and ‘Iolani lose key players to graduation.
>> Konawaena (12-7, 6-4 BIIF)
vs. Top 10: 1-6
The Wildcats are another young team that endured growing pains. The opportunity will be there again next season.
>> Mid-Pacific (8-15, 3-9 ILH)
In a brutal ILH, being one or two posts short, or having one or two more than your competition, goes a long way. The Owls began the season without promising wing/post Robert Thompson, who transferred to Kalaheo. They seemed able to make up the difference with their young frontcourt and veteran backcourt, led by senior sharpshooter Colin Ramos.
However, in the bruising ILH, three games per week of the constant pummeling takes a toll. MPI’s preseason wins over eventual OIA champion Moanalua, and the only D-II team to beat Moanalua — Farrington — were indicative of what the Owls were capable of. They went on to beat Saint Louis and Kamehameha — twice. They also defeated Mililani, which went on to finish second in the OIA West.
They wisely controlled tempo, pushing Kailua and Hawaii Prep hard before losing close games. There was an overtime loss to St. Francis. A three-point loss at ‘Iolani. But the physical toll is something no team or coach can control fully, and so it was for the hungry Owls. THey finished the season 6-14 against Top 10 opponents, and 2-1 against unranked foes.