A look at today’s quarterfinal round, following a stunning opening round on Wednesday, at the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Boys Basketball State Championships
Konawaena vs. Pearl City
McKinley Student Council Gymnasium, 5 p.m.
Ranking: The Wildcats of Konawaena are No. 6 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10. Pearl City are unranked.
On paper: Konawaena (27-3) captured the BIIF title last weekend and had an opening-round bye yesterday. Pearl City (17-9) upset Moanalua 68-60 (OT) in yesterday’s opener at McKinley.
The two teams did not meet in preseason, but they have one common opponent of note. Pearl City lost to St. Francis 49-47 on Dec. 21 at the Walter Wong Invitational. Konawaena topped St. Francis the next day 58-41 at the Punahou Invitational.
The skinny: The Wildcats’ preseason trip to Honolulu should provide a measure of confidence and comfort as they begin tourney play today. But if they start cold, get nervous or tight, that might open a door of opportunity for the Chargers, who are riding high after yesterday’s big win.
The Chargers proved yesterday, once again, that it can hang with uptempo teams. Coach Lionel Villarmia isn’t having his team push hard, but when the floor is open after turnover, his team has big-time speed and can finish, as Isaac Amorin did several times against Moanalua.
Konawaena may be a bit more deliberate than Moanalua, though, and like Pearl City, the Wildcats will force turnovers and race upcourt with regularity, if possible. This could end up being a low-scoring defensive duel. That would help the Chargers feel rejuvenated in a second game in less than two days.
X factor: Brenton Shropshire is relatively new to basketball, but his reach is unmatched. The 6-foot-7 center allows his teammates to extend defensive coverage, take chances on steals and, in effect, he’s a play creator from that end of the floor.
Up next: The winner plays Maryknoll or Baldwin on Friday at Blaisdell Center.
Maryknoll vs. Baldwin
McKinley Student Council Gymnasium, 7 p.m.
Ranking: Maryknoll is 23-2 entering the state tourney and ranked No. 1 in the Top 10. The Bears (15-6) are unranked, but woke a lot of fans up with a 57-43 win over Kapolei last night.
On paper: Baldwin finished second to King Kekaulike in the MIL. Maryknoll is 23-2 entering the state tourney and ranked No. 1 in the Top 10. Back on Dec. 22, when the Spartans escaped with a 35-32 win over the Bears at the Punahou Invitational, it was a game that astounded a lot of hoop fans. After all, no local team had managed to crack that 10-point margin of defeat against Maryknoll.
The skinny: The Spartans can win going fast with the whirlwind energy of guard Kaleb Gilmore and swingman Josh Burnett. They can withstand a slowdown tempo, relying on solid big men Tobias Schramm (6-9) and Hyrum Harris (6-5).
If they are wrangled into a plodding pace by Baldwin coach Wayne Gushiken and his Bears, it could be dangerous.
Baldwin has capable bigs in Bradley Bowlin and Teva Eldredge and a steady point guard in sophomore Kody Takushi. But Kapolei exposed Baldwin’s weakness — breaking halfcourt and fullcourt pressure — so it’s possible Maryknoll coach Kelly Grant will follow suit with a similar game plan.
More likely, each side will stick with halfcourt schemes and the Spartans will stay in their halfcourt man-to-man.
X factor: Though Baldwin will shoot the ball earlier and quicker in a possession than Bears teams of the past, they still operate a disciplined, cut-heavy offense that might frustrate Maryknoll. The last time the Spartans were frustrated defensively — in a 15-13 win over ‘Iolani — they picked up five early fouls, including two by Burnett.
Up next: The winner will play Konawaena or Pearl City.
King Kekaulike vs. Punahou
Moanalua gym, 5 p.m.
Ranking: MIL champion King Kekaulike is No. 8 in the Top 10. Punahou is No. 3.
On paper: Na Alii (15-3) played in Punahou’s preseason tourney, but didn’t match up with the Buffanblu. Still, that preseason trip helped Coach Bill Naylor’s squad.
Punahou’s schedule then and through the ILH season ranks with the toughest of all — aside from teams that played national powerhouses at the ‘Iolani Classic. Punahou (20-7) advanced to the quarterfinals after a 63-50 victory over Farrington, overcoming an early 13-point deficit.
The skinny: King Kekaulike plays methodically, with precision, and rarely strays from that simple formula. Can Na Alii stay at its normal pace while Punahou presses fullcourt and brings waves of players off the bench?
Punahou has been willing to play patiently — and efficiently — in slower-paced games, too. But when the Buffanblu are playing their best, they get contributions from many players.
X factor: Punahou’s backcourt, featuring sharpshooting Nick Velasquez, is as skilled and deep as any in the state. If they keep the pace fast, it will be a grueling night for the MIL champs.
Up next: The winner will play the Kalaheo-Mililani winner.
Kalaheo vs. Mililani
Moanalua gym, 7 p.m.
Ranking: Kalaheo dropped from No. 1 to No. 2 this week despite winning the OIA Red title. Mililani is unranked, but surprised Kamehameha-Hawaii yesterday, 84-68.
On paper: Kalaheo is 35-4. Mililani is 16-12, but has played well of late, winning 10 of its last 11 games. That includes a 34-30 win over Pearl City for fifth place in the OIA Red, and yesterday’s win over KS-Hawaii.
These two teams have not met yet this season.
The skinny: The Trojans have always preferred a run-and-gun style under Coach Ed Gonzales, but had struggled to score points this season. Trapping Kalaheo won’t be easy. They have a surplus of tall, long athletes who can shoot and handle the ball on the perimeter.
Among them is 6-3 gunner Kalei Zuttermeister. Veteran point guard Josh Ko is a clutch performer. Derick Morgan, a 6-1 senior, is versatile and one of the state’s top defenders.
X factor: The Mustangs are a very good perimeter shooting team, and they’re also good at the foul line. Mililani can hope the OIA Red champs have an off night, but if that fullcourt press has a magical touch — somehow — maybe the men of Troy are a team of destiny.
Up next: The winner will play the King Kekaulike-Punahou winner.
See the preview on Division II quarterfinal matchups right here.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser