Cue Jeopardy music: ILH draw in process

Some pupus for those of you waiting patiently for news of the ILH boys basketball draw.

As of noon today, according to the ILH office, the tiebreaker process for the four, yes FOUR teams tied for first place as the regular-season schedule concluded last night, is underway.

I asked if the “draw” was done and the answer I received was, “We’re working on it.”

In other words, the draw may have been done this morning. It may be done this afternoon. Regardless, the league is not going to release any information until sites and bus rentals and all those types of logistics are squared away.

After all, with gyms at ‘Iolani, Maryknoll and Punahou unavailable this weekend, that leaves basically Kamehameha, Mid-Pacific and perhaps some facilities at Division II schools like Damien and St. Francis as neutral-court options.

Also, in the meantime, for you patient hoopaholics (my name is Pupule and I am a Hoopaholic), there is this: Please, please, pleeeeease refrain from whining about the number of state-tournament berths allotted to the ILH.

>> Unprecedented?
Yes, of course, in a year of parity and quality combined, when all six ILH Division I boys basketball teams have been locked into the Star-Advertiser Top 10 poll —‘Iolani at No. 2, Saint Louis at No. 3, Kamehameha at No. 5, Punahou at No. 6, Mid-Pacific at No. 9 — it is seemingly unjustified that only two berths are available for the league.

But let’s go back a bit, shall we? As I’ve scribed before out of the drivel of my cyberspace pen a few dozen times, the ILH has voted AGAINST tournament-field expansion numerous times in voting by administrators at the annual HIADA conference committee and general assembly meetings. This goes for football, where the possibility of returning to an eight-team field from the current six has been shot down mercilessly many times.

This applies also to basketball, where there has been some minor discussion about expanding to 16 teams in D-I tournaments, but nothing serious. Putting that to a vote would’ve been a waste of time, perhaps. Title IX issues are undeniable. Adding more boys to state championship sports requires an equal addition of girls and football is the big boulder on the scale.

Still, why would the ILH vote against its own interests? After all, a 16-team state field would mean three teams from the league would be awarded berths. In some years, maybe four, especially if, as some prognosticators imagine, a dominant D-II team like St. Francis were to escalate into D-I soon.

But in the here and now, it’s limited to two entries from the wild, wooly and utterly addictive world of ILH boys hoops this season.

>> Old bones
Had the ILH remained a combination of public and private schools in the past 46 years, of course this issue would be moot. But there’s a reason why Honolulu’s public schools ceded from the ILH and joined the country public schools to form the OIA as we know it today. The reason? RECRUITING.

That legacy remains today. The OIA cracked down hard on free-and-loose transferring last year. Imagine how they’d feel about giving in to the ILH and its mighty lure to talented student-athletes?

It was not so long ago that then-OIA executive director Dwight Toyama hinted that if the imbalance of resources (financial aid, my interpretation) and facilities become worse, the OIA would gladly initiate the process of creating a public-schools only state championship for all sports.

He hinted at it. He didn’t draw up a blueprint, at least not for media to see. But what Toyama, now retired, was really communicating is that he and the state’s largest league had no interest in backing down from what started in the late 1960s. It was a time when private schools were scooping up much of the top talent of city public schools.

It’s happening today, still, so there’s no imperative for the OIA to change the ratio-based formula that has two ILH teams and six OIA programs in the state basketball tournament (D-I) each year.

>> Mediocrity does not rule?
More than one source from the OIA has told me over the years that expanding to 16 teams at states is absolutely not interesting. They don’t want to send the league’s seventh- and eighth-place teams. They want a state championship to involve the very best teams within this numerical ratio formula.

So there are sports fans, not just from the ILH, who simply want to see the BEST teams in the state compete for the HHSAA title. The HHSAA isn’t budging, though.

It is what it is. For the fans who don’t like that notion, I feel you. And I know many of you have taken advantage of this highly unique season to take in as many ILH roundball games as your time permits. And man, what a season it’s been.

The thing is, things are going to be even more crazy on the hardwood starting tomorrow (Saturday) when the first “semifinal” of the tiebreaker tourney begins. Then it’s mayhem on Monday when the winners battle for the state-tourney berth. Then it’s straight into the ILH playoff tournament 24 hours later on Tuesday. No rest for the weary, and I do mean players, not fans, though it applies to both.

ILH League Pass. Enjoy what you can in these next eight days or so if you can. You won’t have six ranked teams from the ILH at the state tourney, but you get to see them go at it almost every night for more than a week.

Stop the whining. Embrace the greatest roundball week, possibly, in ILH hoops history. Your choice.


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