The time has finally come for change in ILH basketball.
League basketball coordinator Peter Estomago confirmed that the ILH will switch from Spalding to Baden for the upcoming season.
“We support the decision by our coaches and athletic directors,” Estomago said on Tuesday. “They want to use the same ball that is used by the HHSAA.”
For years, the ILH had used the Spalding TF-1000 moisture-control model, a ball with a dark red tint that felt soft, yet rough on the surface. It also felt a bit light compared to other basketballs, which could make it a great weapon for long-range shooters.
However, the HHSAA and the OIA has used Baden Elite balls for years. That contract is set to expire in 2022. The Baden Elite is similar to the popular Wilson Evolution. The Baden Elite is composite-based basketballs with wide channels. The surface is smooth and relatively spongy at first.
“Personally, I like the Baden better. They seem to last longer,” Punahou boys coach Darren Matsuda said. “I applaud this move. The ILH coaches have been pushing for this for a while so we can use the same balls as the state tourney.”
Maryknoll boys coach Kelly Grant echoed the sentiment.
“I just want to use the same ball as the state tournament,” said Grant, who guided the Spartans to the state title last season.
“I’m in favor,” Mid-Pacific boys coach Robert Shklov said. “Not because I disliked the Spalding TF series, but because of the consistency of one brand of basketball across the leagues.”
‘Iolani girls coach Dean Young agreed.
“Well, as long as the HHSAA is sticking with the Baden, then I think it’s a great thing for the ILH,” said Young, who guided ‘Iolani to the state crown last season. “The Baden and the Spalding were so different that it took our team some time to get used to it when preparing for the state tourney. Personally, I like Baden. I play with a Baden ball during my lunch pick-up games.”
Kamehameha boys coach Larry Park supports the change.
“I think it’s a good thing. Coaches have been asking for a while. Now we are consistent with the state tournament ball,” Park said.
Because each school is responsible for its gear, it will be up to each to order new Baden Elite basketballs. Unlike the OIA, which is contracted with Baden for balls in all sports, the ILH is changing to Baden for basketball only.
Mid-Pacific didn’t hesitate.
“Our equipment manager, Phil Farmer, ordered and picked them up,” Shklov said.
Young doesn’t have exact statistics, but he believes the bounce of the Baden ball is different from the Spalding.
“Baden and (Wilson) Evolution have a better feel, but they’re bouncier and stickier than the Spalding, so they might rim out more often than Spalding,” Young said. “I wouldn’t know because I swish everything. Just joking.”
New ‘Iolani boys Coach Ryan Hirata was an all-state player and long-range bomber.
“The ILH coaches have been pushing for the Baden basketball for years now, so I’m glad to see the change, especially since it’s the official state tournament ball,” Hirata said.
Damien boys coach Alvin Stevenson doesn’t see a big transition from one ball to the other.
“I personally don’t care. A ball is a ball. Where I’m from we were happy to have a leather ball and play in the gym. It’s not a big deal to me. It’s all round. Dibble and shoot the same,” Stevenson said. “We are happy with whatever.”
Estomago has the same thought.
“A ball is just a ball. Both sides use the same ball,” he said.