BOYS BASKETBALL STATE SEMIFINALS: Will 4th time be charm for Damien against Maryknoll?

Damien guard Reginald Spencer flipped the ball at the free-throw line before scoring the final points for Damien against Moanalua. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

Day three of the big dance is here and there will be four more broken hearts.

What we’ve learned through two rounds of the Division I state tourney is that Kamehameha, Maryknoll and Damien have proven their status among the top four in the Star-Advertiser Top 10. We have also learned that the funky formula that the HHSAA by-laws abide by can’t solve everything.

After all, we had the No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the state, OIA champion Moanalua and ILH third-place Damien, met in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. Meanwhile, OIA runner-up Kahuku, ranked No. 5, ousted unranked MIL champion Baldwin. It’s the million-piece puzzle condensed into a state that has such disparately different leagues. Where else does a league runner-up matchup with a team that is good, but never cracked the Top 10.

Here’s a look at tonight’s semifinal matchups in D-I and D-II.

Damien (19-14) vs. Maryknoll (28-4), 5 p.m.
Stan Sheriff Center
On paper: Maryknoll has beaten Damien in all three matchups to date this season. Each was a four-point margin. Last year, Damien was the rare team to beat the Spartans, who eventually won the D-I state title. The Monarchs took the D-II crown.

Maryknoll spent part of the season ranked No. 1, but since losing to Kamehameha has been locked at No. 2. Damien is currently No. 4.

Maryknoll is 17-4 against ranked teams. Its losses were to St. Francis (Calif.) and Kamehameha (three times). On neutral courts, Maryknoll is a sparkling 12-1.

Damien is 11-13 against ranked opponents. On neutral courts, the Monarchs are 6-6.

Skinny: It’s easy to say this: when Damien beat Maryknoll (in preseason) last season, it still had guard Jydon Hall. This season, the Monarchs are peaking at the right time and Hayden Bayudan has stepped up into a key role as playmaker/distributor/scorer/creator.

Unlike the previous three meetings, Maryknoll doesn’t have key scorer Liko Soares at full strength due to a meniscus injury. Coach Kelly Grant rested Soares in Wednesday’s quarterfinal. He played on Monday in the opening round.

Pupule pick: Spartans 44, Monarchs 43. With Soares at less than 100 percent, they could be knocked out, but their advantage is that reserves absorbed big minutes yesterday. Damien needed every ounce of energy to get past Moanalua. It’s a toss-up, but Soares will likely play a very crucial role despite the pain.

Kamehameha (27-5) vs. Kahuku (18-6), 7 p.m.
Stan Sheriff Center
On paper: The Warriors are now 14-5 against Top 10 teams, including yesterday’s quarterfinal rout of Leilehua. They are 12-5 on neutral courts, but also were 9-0 on opposing team’s floors.

Kahuku is 4-5 against Top 10 teams, with three of those losses before Robbie Sauvao returned. The Red Raiders and Warriors have not played yet this season.

Skinny: The wipeout win over a very good Leilehua squad says a lot about the level of competition in the ILH. That slate was a brutal one, but the Warriors have the depth the endure and thrive.

Kamehameha’s fullcourt pressure out of man-to-man coverage, springing backside traps, can take a toll on opponents. Kahuku’s pressbreaker is not pristine, but with their lineup, points can come in bunches against extended coverage.

Kamehameha’s balanced lineup comes into play again here. Oscar Cheng will get his points and boards plus the occasional block. Can Kamehameha contain Sauvao and Lokana Enos?

Conversely, who will slow down Kordel Ng and Christmas Togiai? Coach Brandyn Akana likes to stick with man defense, but this is a special occasion.

Pupule pick: Warriors 65, Red Raiders 56.

Hawaii Prep (15-2) vs. Roosevelt (12-7)
Kaimuki HS gym
On paper: Since losing at home to Waiakea on Jan. 25, HPA has won five games in a row by an average margin of 16.8 points per game. Ka Makani have played one Top 10 team all season (Waiakea).

Roosevelt is 1-4 against ranked teams, but the 58-35 rout of MIL champion Seabury Hall on Wednesday ended the Spartans’ 13-game win streak. Roosevelt’s tough regular-season schedule prepared a young roster for this run to the OIA title and perhaps more.

Unlike Seabury Hall, which had a D-II only schedule in MIL play, HPA played everyone in the BIIF. Like HPA, Roosevelt had a close loss to Waiakea in preseason (63-62). HPA lost to Waiakea, 49-46.

Skinny: HPA has more experience, a trio of capable scorers and should win this game decisively. There’s something about Roosevelt, though, with its scrappy, never-say-die team mentality.

Pupule pick: Rough Riders 51, Ka Makani 49.

McKinley (15-12) vs. Kohala (16-3)
Kaimuki HS gym
On paper: Frank Camacho went off with 26 points on Wednesday as the Tigers knocked out No. 2 seed Hanalani. It was a big bump up from an off night in the OIA final against Roosevelt.

Kohala remains fairly balanced in its scoring attack, and even with an undersized roster, outscored Kauai 68-64. The Cowboys are 4-2 on neutral courts.

Skinny: This is an intriguing matchup both ways. Camacho is big enough to be a weapon in the paint, but his game is more on the wing and mid-range, which should give Kohala a better opportunity. The Tigers stayed close with Hanalani, which I expected, but letting Camacho dominate won’t be on Kohala’s to-do list.

Pupule pick: Cowboys 54, Tigers 52. Kohala will mark Camacho and long-range bomber Noah Omori just enough to eke into the final.

HHSAA Division I State Tournament

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 17Waiakea vs. LeilehuaLei, 82-53Waiakea
2Feb. 17Kahuku vs. KaiserKah, 56-37Kahuku
3Feb. 17Lahainaluna vs. DamienDMS, 58-49Lahainaluna
4Feb. 17Maryknoll vs. KalaheoMryk, 49-41 (OT)Maryknoll
5Feb. 19(1) Kamehameha vs. LeilehuaKSK, 72-43McKinley
6Feb. 19(4) Baldwin vs. KahukuKah, 64-53McKinley
7Feb. 19(2) Moanalua vs. DamienDMS, 64-57Moanalua
8Feb. 19(3) KS-Hawaii vs. MaryknollMryk, 61-32Moanalua
9*Feb. 20Moanalua vs. KS-HawaiiMoan, 73-61Stan Sheriff Center
10*Feb. 20Leilehua vs. BaldwinBald, 73-54Stan Sheriff Center
11Feb. 20Damien vs. MaryknollMryk, 57-40Stan Sheriff Center
12Feb. 20Kamehameha vs. KahukuKSK, 48-39Stan Sheriff Center
13*Feb. 21Moanalua vs. BaldwinMoan, 64-52Stan Sheriff Center
14*Feb. 21Damien vs. KahukuKah, 50-49Stan Sheriff Center
15Feb. 21Maryknoll vs. KamehamehaMryk, 46-33Stan Sheriff Center
* — consolation

HHSAA Division II State Tournament

Match #DateMatchupTime/ScoresSite
1Feb. 19(1) Hawaii Prep vs. UniversityHPA, 63-46Kaimuki
2Feb. 19(4) Roosevelt vs. Seabury HallRoos, 58-35Kaimuki
3Feb. 19(2) Hanalani vs. McKinleyMcK, 51-50Kalani
4Feb. 19(3) Kauai vs. KohalaKoh, 68-64Kalani
5*Feb. 20University vs. Seabury HallSH, 45-31Kalani
6*Feb. 20Hanalani vs. KauaiKauai, 48-46Kalani
7Feb. 20Hawaii Prep vs. RooseveltRoos, 41-37Kaimuki
8Feb. 20McKinley vs. KohalaKoh, 45-27Kaimuki
9*Feb. 21Seabury Hall vs. KauaiKauai, 52-49Stan Sheriff Center
10*Feb. 21Hawaii Prep vs. McKinleyHPA, 52-39Stan Sheriff Center
11Feb. 21Roosevelt vs. KohalaKoh, 51-48Stan Sheriff Center
* — consolation


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