Here we are, Day 3 of the Hawaiian Airlines/HHSAA Boys Basketball State Championships. D-I semifinals are at Blaisdell Arena. D-II is at Kaimuki High School.
Konawaena vs. Maryknoll
Blaisdell Arena, 7 p.m.
Ranking: Konawaena (28-3) was ranked No. 6 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10 on Tuesday. Maryknoll (24-2) is at No. 1.
On paper: The Spartans are the top seed in the tourney while Konawaena was the fourth and last seed. Yesterday, the Wildcats eliminated Pearl City, which upset Kapolei in the opening round. Maryknoll rallied past Baldwin.
The skinny: Few teams are as versatile as Maryknoll, which can win fast or slow. The Spartans are normally a good free-throw shooting team, but was just 23-for-44 in the 64-54 win over Baldwin.
Konawaena is one of the best defensive teams in the state, using a man-to-man defense and pressuring the ball at all times. With 6-foot-8 Brenton Shropshire in the middle, the Wildcats have the luxury of extending pressure at any time.
Maryknoll runs its system well, but with young scorers — Kaleb Gilmore is a sophomore and Joshua Burnett is a junior — there’s a big gray area. At times, the Spartans are outstanding in a patient halfcourt offense, but Gilmore, in particular, has a bit of a green light to attack the basket just about any time.
X factor: Konawaena’s strength offensively — balanced scoring — could also be a challenge against Maryknoll’s front line of Tobias Schramm (6-9), Hyrum Harris (6-5) and Burnett (6-4). Maryknoll showed an effective 1-2-2 halfcourt trap yesterday, but will probably rely on its man defense as long as possible. That puts the onus on the Wildcats to find a way to score.
Punahou vs. Kalaheo
Blaisdell Arena, 5 p.m.
Ranking: Punahou (21-7) is No. 3 in the Top 10, arising out of the ILH as the league runner-up. Kalaheo (36-4), the OIA Red champion, is No. 2 in the poll.
On paper: Punahou is deep and prefers to use its wealth of talent in an uptempo game. That works against teams with short rotations like King Kekaulike, which lost to Punahou 56-32 in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Against a seasoned, skilled and patient Kalaheo team, Punahou could be lulled into a much slower tempo.
The teams met on Dec. 28 at the St. Francis/Merv Lopes Classic. Punahou pulled out a 51-49 win at Manoa gym and Kalaheo coach Alika Smith was incensed after the game. He had a long, fiery speech for the Mustangs after the game.
Kalaheo hasn’t lost a game since.
The skinny: This would’ve been a great challenge for Nainoa Frank, Kalaheo’s 6-6 center who suffered a knee injury in the school’s final football game of the season. Punahou is tall, long, rangy and athletic. Kalaheo can keep up with the Buffanblu fine, but it’ll suit the team in orange to play at a steady, slower pace.
X factor: Josh Ko is a supreme guard, a ballhandler who can score from deep, midrange and at the basket. Kalei Zuttermeister, at 6-3, is a bulls-eye 3-point shooter on par with Punahou’s Nick Velasquez. As those two go, so doi the Mustangs.
St. Francis vs. Hawaii Prep
Kaimuki High School, 5 p.m.
Ranking: The Saints (24-5) entered the Top 10 at No. 10 this week. HPA (10-4) is not ranked.
On paper: St. Francis is the top seed of the D-II tourney, but even with a senior-heavy, talented lineup, it would be a surprise if the Saints dominate from this point.
HPA has senior guard Jovan Crnic, a Serbian transfer with athleticism. He won the slam dunk contest at the Punahou Invitational.
St. Francis likes to use a man-to-man defense, so the question is who will guard Crnic. It could be Keoni Tom-Millare, a strong 6-foot-1 two-sport standout. It could be Matthew Nuumanaia, a smooth 6-5 playmaker.
But using either for defensive lockdown purposes may curtail their offensive production. It’s a nice dilemma for St. Francis coach Sol Batoon.
X factor: The Saints weren’t relying heavily on him, but guard Ranan Mamiya is not eligible for the state tourney due to transfer rules. He came in from University High last year.
Kailua vs. Seabury Hall
Kaimuki High School, 7 p.m.
Ranking: Kailua (15-8) is the No. 2 seed. Seabury Hall (14-1) is not ranked.
On paper: This is a classic battle between the OIA White champion Surfriders and the MIL champion Spartans. Kailua can be very physical, but has become a very disciplined, patient team under first-year coach Walter Marciel.
The skinny: The Spartans are a finesse team, preferring the long ball to a consistent low-post offense even with their height. Kailua loves to play a hard, tough man-to-man, so a lot of tonight’s game will depend on officiating.
X factor: Kekoa Ford, Kailua’s quick guard, could be a tough cover for any of the Spartans.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser