This is the first stop of the day, Kalaheo vs. University at the Hawaii Self-Storage Black and Gold Classic. Later, I’m hoping to catch (traffic permitting) games at the James Alegre Invitational (Radford) before the tourney final at the Surfriders Holiday Classic.
Why spend 10 hours watching hoops and driving all over the island? Why not, I say. It’s only one week and a few days since tryouts and cuts ended. What we see is pretty much what the coaches are seeing, too, for first time.
• Hawaii Self-Storage Black and Gold Classic
Campbell 53, Kaimuki 43
Kalaheo 53, University 29
Maryknoll 45, Kalani 35
McKinley 60, Kapolei 53
• James Alegre Invitational
Mililani 65, Saint Louis I-AA 41
Leilehua 54, Hayward (Calif.) 41
Farrington 61, Punahou 53
‘Iolani 54, Moanalua 40
6 p.m. Honokaa vs. Radford
• Surfriders Holiday Classic
Seventh place: ‘Iolani I-AA 43, Waianae 35
Fifth place: Baldwin 65, St. Francis 44
Third place: Roosevelt 55, Waipahu 52
Championship: Saint Louis 59, Kailua 41
Kalaheo vs. University
12:30 p.m., McKinley Student Council Gymnasium
The Mustangs have been rolling through the tourney, routing Kapolei 81-44 on Thursday and getting past a tough Campbell squad 60-48 on Friday. Today, however, they are without Kupaa Harrison and Kaleb Gilmore, arguably the top two players in the state. I’ll find out where they are later.
This means more minutes and shots for some of their other talented players. Captain Whitlock just swished a rainbow 3 from the right wing late in the first quarter. The Mustangs lead 12-1 after the first 8 minutes. UHS coach Walt Quitan is not happy. He’s not usually a big yeller, but he’s on his guys right now for the lack of energy.
Mustangs definitely have more spring in their step. Junior Rainbows look a step slow. Here’s my theory: Kalaheo is deep, which means a lot of the guys playing this afternoon are still fresh. UHS? Their bench is not deep and they’re using the same guys who have been playing big minutes in their past two games. Not an excuse, but the mileage can add up this early in the season before players are at optimum physical condition.
The guy playing with the most energy for UHS is a reserve (#23). Mustangs lead 18-2 with 4:30 left.
Kaleb Gilmore just arrived. So is Harrison, who is not dressed in uniform. Kalaheo leads 19-3 as Gilmore checks in.
Kalaheo 29, University 15. Whitlock doing a little of everything, hitting threes, driving for reverse layups. Alec MacLeod attacking the rim and protecting the rim defensively against UHS’s 6-4 big man, Ryan Hobus.
Jr. ‘Bows unable to get any consistent, quality shots against Kalaheo’s man defense. Kalaheo 39, University 20.
Harrison has his left ankle propped up on a chair with a bag of ice on it. That explains it.
Final: Kalaheo 53, University 29
High scorers: K—Kaleb Gilmore 16 (one trey), Jalen Smith 10 (one trey), Captain Whitlock (two treys), Kekai Smith 7. U—Anson Canencia 11.
Note: Both Harrison and Gilmore were busy taking the SAT at Damien, which is why they got to the game later.
Marknoll 45, Kalani 35
McKinley Student Council Gymnasium
This was a tight battle all the way through until the Spartans took command in the final 5 minutes. Sophomore Justice Sueing Jr. was big again with 22 points, including 6-for-7 at the free-throw line. He finished the three-game tourney at 20-for-22 at the line — 91 percent. He’s also making adjustments. Earlier in the tourney, he was dangerously good going to the basket, but also putting his own health at risk as defenders stepped in to try and take the charge from the 6-5 lefty.
Today, Sueing mixed it up, hitting a few short pull-up jumpers, and that feathery release is all net. The guy is money, a great finesse player who has explosiveness off the dribble.
He didn’t do it alone. Brian Washington had several blocks and scored 16 points. Best freshman in the state? I haven’t seen one better yet.
Alex Tungpalan scored 13 points (one trey) to lead Kalani (1-2). Cory Mitchell and Juwan Bohannon added nine points apiece.
Farrington 61, Punahou 53
James Alegre Gymnasium, Radford High School
On paper, the Punahou Buffanblu have championship pieces.
On the court, however, the Farrington Governors are proving that they’re a half-step ahead.
The Governors won their first preseason game on Monday, 87-47, against Waipahu, then won two more at the James Alegre Invitational. Bryce Tatupu-Leopoldo and Jake Smith scored 12 points each to pace Farrington. Jared Lum led Punahou (2-1) with 12 points. Kala‘i Santos added eight and Chris Kobayashi scored all seven of his points in the fourth quarter.
Entering Saturday’s showdown with the Buffanblu, the Govs were averaging nearly 80 points per game using a heavy platoon system featuring all 16 players.
Against Punahou, though, coach Allan Silva went with a more standard rotation. The Governors led big at the start, 26-4. By the fourth quarter, the lead was down to 50-36 and Punahou kept chipping away. Chris Kobayashi’s corner 3 sparked a 12-4 run that brought the Buffanblu within 54-48.
But moments later, Tua Unutoa drove for a layup, and after Punahou’s Jordan Tanuvasa fouled out on a technical foul, and the Buffanblu never recovered. They hung around, chipping the lead to 56-51 on a low-post bank shot by Jack-Eli Thompson-Tufono with less than 2 minutes to go, but Farrington handled Punahou’s fullcourt press.
Keola Kealoha fed Bryce Tatupu-Leopoldo for a layup to push the lead to 58-51. The Buffanblu got two foul shots by Kobayashi with 34 seconds left, but got no closer.
It’s still early, just the first week of preseason games, but the bleachers were filled with about 400 fans. The game, preseason or not, meant something.
“We’re playing better than we did earlier in the week,” said Unutoa, one of Farrington’s senior returnees. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but we’re working together as a team. We’re communicating and talking through our mistakes.”
The Govs get a short break until the OIA-ILH Challenge next week at Moanalua’s gym. Punahou will be in the same tourney, and they’re hoping more of their football guys are healthy: Randon Oda and Micah Ma‘a, in particular.
“A lot of our guys have had just one week of practice, but we have 11 returnees,” coach Darren Matsuda said. “They know what we do. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”
Kanawai Noa missed the last two games due to an official football visit to Washington State. J.B. Kam missed the game due to an illness.
“A lot of our first year players got to play,” Matsuda said.
Moanalua 7, ‘Iolani 7, end first quarter
Defensive struggle. Raiders center Hugh Hogland is a tough wall to climb at 6-8. It’s true what coach Dean Shimamoto said recently. Hogland is leaner, quicker and much more mobile than he was last year as a freshman.
‘Iolani 22, Moanalua 20, Half
Hogland is asserting himself, but Moanalua is staying close. They’ve handled ‘Iolani’s fullcourt, on-ball man defense fairly well, and they’re physical enough inside against Hogland and big Kamu Borden (6-3, 241). Kyrie McRaven, a 6-5 senior, is making a big difference in the paint for Na Menehune.
‘Iolani 34, Moanalua 25, end third quarter
McRaven committed his fourth foul and things got rough. He’s a good ballhandler, a stretch 5 at times, and without him, Moanalua melted down a bit against the Raiders’ fullcourt pressure. ‘Iolani isn’t playing great offensively, but on defense, yes, they’re outstanding against a slightly impatient Moanalua offense. McRaven back in for the fourth quarter.
McRaven fouls out at 6:43 on an and-1 play in he paint by Hogland. McRaven has a nice shooting touch out to 17 feet, pulled Hogland out once during the third quarter. I wonder what he could do if he can hit threes. That would be a major weapon.
Another ‘Iolani steal, Yamada follows with a putback and the lead 39-27, 5:48. Time out, Moanalua.
Final: ‘Iolani 54, Moanalua 40
High scorers: I—Hugh Hogland 18, Pikai Winchester 8, Kamu Borden 8. M—Kyrie McRaven 11.
Surfriders Holiday Classic
Kailua High School
Seventh place: ‘Iolani I-AA 43, Waianae 35. I—Jackson Sealey 8. W—Ikaika Trueman-Reed 10.
Fifth place: Baldwin 65, St. Francis 44. B—Kody Takushi 22, Taje Akaka 10, Zachary Ayers 10. SF—Noah Kurosawa 19 (one trey).
Third place: Roosevelt 55, Waipahu 52. R—Brent Quackenbush 15, Chaston Marcos 11. W—Kameron Tomas 14, Elijah Taimatuia 11, Andrew Pecpec 10.
Saint Louis 29, Kailua 16, Q2, 3:12
The Crusaders are pressing the ball hard and running the floor. They jumped to a 12-0 lead and have given the Surfriders fits with their matchup zone.
Both teams were in the bonus early, but it hasn’t helped Kailua. The Surfriders are shooting below 50 percent at the line. On Friday, they were 10-for-30 from the charity stripe in a come-from-behind win over Waipahu.
End third quarter: Saint Louis 42, Kailua 30
Saint Louis 51, Kailua 35, Q4, 1:30
FINAL: Saint Louis 59, Kailua 41.
High scorers: SL—Kevin Marks 12, Colten Nascimento 11, Jimmy Nunuha III 9, Ihaka Johnson 7. K—Kamu Scheer 15, Nainoa Mercado 7.
MVP: Ihaka Johnson.
That’s a wrap. A lot of good games today. It’s just the end of one week of preseason games and the learning curve for every team is still large in the weeks to come. But the teams with great potential left their mark. More on that later.