House of Tumble: St. Louis new No. 1 (part 1)

Chris Sykes and Saint  Louis is the team to beat in the ILH -- for now. Jay Metzger / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Chris Sykes and Saint Louis is the team to beat in the ILH — for now. Jay Metzger / Special to the Star-Advertiser

See the Star-Advertiser Boys Basketball Top 10 here

I was not kidding. The ILH gauntlet is real.

Saint Louis woke us roundball fans up by suiting up a Wes Unseld mountain replica — Tristan Nichols — in Week 1 during the James Alegre Invitational. Allan Silva guided Farrington back to elite status the past few years. Now he’s doing it up on Kalaepohaku. Whenever that new gym is completed, Crusader basketball might be the hottest ticket in the league.

Not long after Saint Louis made its preseason splash, it was Mid-Pacific that basically throttled us by playing tough against all competition. While their girls program opted to move to Division II, their D-I boys began to thrive under the leadership of first-year head coach Ryan Hirata and staff.

Kamehameha, a young-ish team last year loaded with potential, kept plugging along. The Warriors seemed out of sync just a bit with Fatu Sua-Godinet sidelined by injury. Then the hard work turned into magic. Chemistry lab meets roundball fury and long-range skill sets.

We are now in Week 10 and the darlings of preseason, ‘Iolani and Punahou, have had their turn at the top of the Star-Advertiser boys basketball rankings. Now, it’s Saint Louis’ turn. With just one loss in the gauntlet of ILH D-I hoops, they posted a pair of impressive wins last week to vault to No. 1 for the first time this season.

It’s also the fourth time in four weeks that a different team ascended to the throne. This house of polling has rarely been so fickle, so wild. So wacky. So fun.

Kaiser fell from the throne, but not completely. The Cougars lost at Roosevelt last week with Chance Kalaugher, their 6-foot-4, 225-pound swingman on the bench, stitches in an elbow after hitting it on a backboard. Even with the loss, they collected seven out of 17 first-place votes. That’s a lot of pull they still have with a savvy panel of coaches and media voters. A forgiving bunch, indeed, especially after the Cougars posted a decisive 69-40 win over McKinley to seize sole possession of first place.

Kamehameha has been on at least two hot surges this season. The latest one may be the most impressive. They’ve got Sua-Godinet back on the court, playing stronger with each game, but they aren’t dependent on him. Coach Greg Tacon has a reliable cast that goes 10 deep (or more) without dropoff. That’s without losing skill on the perimeter or size in the paint. Balance and talent, plus experience, make it hard to ignore the team in navy blue. Especially when they can run and gun efficiently, perhaps more than any team in the state.

‘Iolani slipped two notches after losing twice in ILH play. Two close losses at the hands of Maryknoll and Kamehameha. The Raiders lost consistency, turned the ball over late, uncharacteristic. There is no mercy in the ILH. It is as competitive and unyielding as any season I can remember from top to bottom.

Yes, League Pass for ILH basketball is still a thing I would’ve subscribed to.

Maryknoll’s topsy-turvy season is topsy right now. Coach Kelly Grant’s young team has played well of late. The pieces and balance are there, which is saying a lot since the days of Josh Burnett and Kaleb Gilmore jacking up a majority of their shots and leading the program to the next level. The Spartans made the largest move in the poll, moving three spots to No. 5.

See Part 2 here


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