The week is far from over, but WOW, things in prep hoops have been wild and wooly again.
Namely, Kahuku and Saint Louis. There are a few teams that are playing their best basketball right now, and Kahuku — unranked for much of the season — is suddenly a state-championship contender.
See and learn, fellow hoopaholics. The Red Raiders have knocked off then-No. 9 Moanalua, and on Wednesday night, they went to Pete Smith Court and stunned No. 3 Kalaheo 63-53. Kahuku (10-4, 5-1 OIA East) did something few teams do under the blue-and-orange title banners. Big Red out-Kalaheoed Kalaheo. They played like a calm, clutch team ready to challenge not only for the OIA Division I crown, but the state-tourney trophy.
Saint Louis had plenty of optimism with the arrival of former state-championship coach Dan Hale, but at least on paper, the Crusaders seemed to be a year away at best. Instead, Hale has done the improbable. He has the men of Kalaepohaku playing Top-10 level basketball in the past two weeks. A 58-57 win over No. 5 Damien on Wednesday is the latest exhibit. Last week, it was a 24-point win at ‘Iolani. Two weeks ago, the Crusaders nearly upset Punahou – another game in the friendly and rowdy confines of McCabe Gym.
Prior to that, Saint Louis took down Leilehua, 66-64, also at McCabe. Just about every coach and close observer isn’t surprised that Hale has his team competing. But they are playing at their highest level in years. And they’re at home again tonight when No. 1 Kamehameha visits.
Saint Louis is 2-1 in the ILH (3-6 overall). The team that nobody wants to play.
Another team nobody wants to face, especially at Hisaoka Gym: the Kohala Cowboys. After a 58-44 win over Konawaena, Kohala is 5-0 in BIIF play. The showdown with Waiakea was postponed due to court conditions (weather) to Feb. 1. With Hawaii Prep heating up after a 54-44 road win at Hilo, the rivalry between Ka Makani and the Cowboys just got a bit more interesting. Those two meet in the regular-season finale for HPA on Jan. 30.
Campbell’s four-game win streak came to an end at Nanakuli on Wednesday. McKinley was steadily creeping into the East chase with five wins in a row, but has lost to Kalani, Kaiser and Kailua. The Tigers (10-7, 3-2) are the top cat in OIA D-II so far, though Nanakuli (6-3, 4-1) are making plenty of noise out West with a four-game win streak.
For now, updated sumo-style pupule groupings.
Kamehameha (16-5, 3-0 ILH). After a surprisingly wide margin of victory over Punahou on Tuesday (63-45), the Warriors could be vulnerable in tonight’s road battle at Saint Louis.
Maryknoll (20-2, 4-1 ILH). Consistent, perhaps more than any team in the state. The Spartans are methodical and patient, thrive in transition defense, and emphasize low-post scoring maybe more than any team. The conservative approach this season means they won’t have many blowout wins, but they’ll be in position every night to use defense, shooting skills and IQ to their advantage.
Kahuku (10-4, 5-1 OIA East). The road win at Kalaheo is no knock on the Mustangs. If anything, Kahuku is playing Top 5 quality basketball.
Kalaheo (15-8, 5-1 OIA East). The Mustangs are 7-7 against all Top 10-level opponents, including 4-4 against Top 10 teams from the islands.
Punahou (12-8, 2-2 ILH). The Buffanblu are 8-8 against Top 10-level foes, including 4-4 against island teams.
Damien (10-10, 1-3 ILH). Home court used to be a weapon for the Monarchs, but last week’s 21-point loss to Punahou at Bishop Scanlan Gymnasium was a stunner. Can they rebound from Tuesday’s one-point loss to Saint Louis tonight against Maryknoll?
Mid-Pacific (14-8, 2-3 ILH). The Owls are 7-7 vs. Top 10 foes and get a bit of a break before hosting No. 1 Kamehameha on Saturday.
Kailua (16-4, 5-1 OIA). The Surfriders are on a three-game win streak since losing to Kalaheo on Jan. 4. They’re 0-4 against Top 10 opponents, but will host No. 9 Kaiser on Saturday.
Saint Louis (3-6, 2-1 ILH). Is Isaac Silva the smoothest southpaw in the state?
Leilehua (12-5, 5-0 OIA). The West schedule has been kind to the Mules. Their margins of victory in the West: 21, 26, 15, 49 and 46 points. They split with MPI in preseason and have double-digit losses to Damien, Kalaheo and Punahou.
Kaiser (14-5, 5-1 OIA). Since losing to Kalaheo in their East opener, the Cougars have reeled off five wins in a row. Saturday’s road game at No. 7 Kailua is big. There is a four-way logjam at the top of the East.
Waiakea (8-2, 4-0 BIIF). Largely untested, the Warriors’ most notable matchups were losses to Punahou (74-61) and ‘Iolani (46-36).
Moanalua (8-9, 3-2 OIA). One of the ultimate litmus-test teams this season. Na Menehune are 8-0 against unranked opponents and 0-9 against Top 10 teams. There’s is enough talent to be an ozeki-status team, but Moanalua has been on the short end in losses to Maryknoll (52-47), Punahou (55-51), Kahuku (63-60) and Kalaheo (37-33).
Mililani (10-7, 5-0 OIA West). The Trojans have flourished in the West as Coach Darryl Gabriel cobbles together more consistency from his squad. After splitting their first two preseason games, they won four in a row, then lost six in a row to close nonleague play. They are 1-5 against Top 10 teams. The one win over a ranked team was against MPI.
Kohala (8-1, 5-0 BIIF). The Cowboys have split two games with Hilo and defeated Konawaena 58-44 on Tuesday.
Hilo (16-6, 3-3 BIIF). The Vikings wowed a lot of spectators during the Punahou Invitational, pushing Tennessee powerhouse Science Hill in a 63-57 loss.
‘Iolani (4-12, 0-4 ILH). The early losses to Radford, Moanalua, Leilehua and Radford — by a combined nine points — make more sense in the rear-view mirror. The Raiders have wins over McKinley, Kamehameha-Hawaii, Waiakea and Mililani, all solid, competitive teams.
Kapolei (9-5, 4-2 OIA)
Hawaii Prep (5-1, 4-0 BIIF)
Baldwin (6-5, 5-0 MIL)
Konawaena (5-5, 2-3 BIIF)
Kauai (4-2, 3-1 KIF)
McKinley (10-7, 3-2 OIA)