Boys Top 10: Kahuku reigns despite ILH shuffle

Kahuku's Kesi Ah-Hoy defended against McKinley's Jerry Coloyan at McKinley Student Council Gymnasium,, Jan. 17, 2017. Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser
Kahuku’s Kesi Ah-Hoy defended against McKinley’s Jerry Coloyan at McKinley Student Council Gymnasium,, Jan. 17, 2017. Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser

Running a bit short of time with the OIA girls semifinals coming up tonight. My girls Top 10 ballot follow-up took more time than I expected, but here’s the Star-Advertiser Boys Basketball Top 10 and my ballot below.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Boys Basketball Top 10
Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017
1. Kahuku (15), 166 1
2. Punahou (2), 154 3
3. Maryknoll, 127 4
4. ‘Iolani, 125 2
5. Lahainaluna, 103 5
6. St. Francis, 59 6
7. Leilehua, 50 8
8. Kapolei, 47 NR
9. Kamehameha, 43 9
10. Kalaheo, 35 7
Also receiving votes: Kailua 10, McKinley 9, Mid-Pacific 5, Seabury Hall 2

Here’s how I voted.

Pupule ballot 1/23/17
1. Kahuku (18-3, 9-0 OIA East)

> Won at McKinley 63-46; beat Roosevelt 91-50.
> Not the typical No. 1 team. That means they are smarter than most top dogs, not dependent on one player, one style, one trait as a team. Their bigs are smart and active and love to pass the ball as much as they like to score. They have a supreme PG who can attack left or right, and he can kill the clock with his handles if told to do so. They have defensive stoppers who take a special pride in their ability to lock down on opponents. A selfless, tough, intelligent, tall and skilled team that treats every game like a championship game is extremely difficult to game plan for. It’ll take a 79-percent shooting night, like Villanova versus Georgetown for the NCAA title in the 1980s, to beat this team.
Sumo rank: Yokozuna. The Chiyonofuji of Grand Champions.

2. Punahou (19-3, 6-1 ILH)
> Won at Kamehameha 62-44; beat ‘Iolani 51-49.
> Mastering the grind game has been coming for the Buffanblu, and the win over ‘Iolani substantiates what they’ve strived for all season. They can win playing fast and slow and every speed in-between.
Sumo rank: Yokozuna.

3. Maryknoll (18-3, 5-1 ILH)
> Beat ‘Iolani 37-35; beat Mid-Pacific 69-46.
> The Spartans are one of those ILH grind teams, just tall and big enough to match up with bigger teams like ‘Iolani, and with enough ballhandling and backcourt skill to execute against quick teams. After a long stretch of preseason games without facing a Top 10 team, the Spartans are proving that time and repetition build the kind of confidence that wins at the elite level.
Sumo rank: Yokozuna.

4. ‘Iolani (13-7, 4-2 ILH)
> What gives? The girls started to sink during finals week, and now the boys are in a rut. It’s the nature of the ILH, and the teams that morph and evolve end up winning titles. Those who don’t adjust fall by the wayside. Brutal and traditional. The defending state champs are being pushed to the limit, but there’s still lots of basketball ahead.
Sumo rank: Yokozuna.

5. Lahainaluna Lunas (17-1, 9-0 MIL)
> Won at Baldwin 60-23; won at Kamehameha-Maui 53-31.
> Disciplined, tall, precise. The Lunas are the 2017 version of what the Baldwin Bears once were, with a style of their own. The one hazard of the MIL today is that there’s nobody to give the Lunas a serious challenge and make them improve. Baldwin and Maui were once powerhouses. King Kekaulike had a nice run for several years. Hana and Molokai have had success in the past. What is going on with boys basketball in Maui County?
Sumo rank: Ozeki.

6. Kamehameha Warriors (14-11, 2-5 ILH)
> Lost to Punahou 62-44; won at Saint Louis 58-41.
> The ILH is merciless. The margins are swinging wider, even though there’s no real big favorite in any matchup. Fatigue, injury, everything takes a toll. A true gauntlet.
Sumo rank: Ozeki.

7. St. Francis Saints (19-4, 6-0 ILH D-II)
> Beat HBA 76-60; beat University 66-55.
> By far, the favorite in D-II statewide. But they must stay healthy. Every player in the rotation has a specific role, and the Saints need every part to remain a cog in the machine.
Sumo rank: Ozeki.

8. Kapolei Hurricanes (15-5, 8-0 OIA West)
> Beat Aiea 72-53; won at Mililani 58-34.
> The Hurricanes have 6-foot-4 thoroughbreds in Marquis Montgomery and Zoar Nedd, plus a quality backcourt. Since losing to Mid-Pacific to end the ‘Iolani Classic, they haven’t been closely challenged in the West; the smallest margin of victory is 11 points.
Sumo rank: Ozeki.

9. Kailua Surfriders (14-8, 6-3 OIA East)
> Beat Moanalua 68-42; won at Kaiser 60-45.
> Christian Mejia is back from his trip and all is well once again for Big Blue.
Sumo rank: Ozeki.

10. Leilehua Mules (11-6, 8-0 OIA West)
> Beat Nanakuli 51-43.
> The young Mules are getting big sparkage from Trey Boatwright and Liam Fitzgerald.
Sumo rank: Ozeki.

* * * * *

On the Cusp (no particular order)

Kalaheo Mustangs (10-9, 6-3 OIA East)
> Lost to Kalani 41-38; won at Farrington 66-51.
> Top scorer Captain Whitlock did not play in the loss to Kalani, but the bigger surprise is that none of the Mustangs scored at least 10 points. Nobody really stepped up. Whether it’s injuries or other factors, the question for all voters is, from week to week, game to game, which Kalaheo team will show up?
Sumo rank: Sekiwake.

Saint Louis (10-11, 1-5 ILH)
> Beat Mid-Pacific 58-42; lost to Kamehameha 58-41.
> The ILH playoff system is ripe for a team that gets hot late in the season. I’ve been waiting to see if someone can step up, or whether everyone on the roster can improve 1 percent every day — which is how struggling teams turn into state-tournament entries.
Sumo rank: Komusubi.

Mid-Pacific (6-8, 1-5 ILH)
> Lost at Saint Louis 58-42; lost at Maryknoll 69-46.
> The team that loses momentum in the ILH is often the team that regains it plus more. That’s the normal pendulum effect of playing in such an unforgiving schedule.
Sumo rank: Komusubi.

Sorry this ballot follow is so short, ran out of time. More next week. Much more.


  1. Observer5 January 25, 2017 9:26 am

    Basketball on Maui has gone down as more kids are into playing baseball or soccer.
    Baldwin jv baseball alone had over 30 plus kids show up for baseball try outs. Baldwins best basketball player decided not to play basketball he decided to focus on baseball.

  2. Education First January 25, 2017 10:56 am

    I pick Kahuku to win it all. They have 3 legitimate D1 players. Their PG Villa is the best player in Hawaii in my opinion. Akana got them utilizing their length and athleticism. They got solid role players to contribute like Ah Hoy, Sauvao, and Wright. Akana control tempo and pace of the entire game.

    The only team I think that has a chance is Iolani if they can slow the game down and keep it in the 30’s – low 40’s. I don’t think that happens with Kahuku”s speed and length. I see Kahuku beating Punahou/Iolani in the semis and finals and then winning states.

  3. Education First January 25, 2017 10:59 am

    Also Mid Pac will not do anything the rest of the ILH Season or the Playoffs. It’s their culture and in their DNA. Plus, since they are losing, I can see their parents and players not buying into all the yelling from the head coach directed at many of the players. They have a culture of losing at MPI for Boys Basketball. Why would it change now? It’s been 30+ to eternity since they ever won anything. Now if you are talking baseball, now that’s a different story.

  4. Loca1boi January 25, 2017 2:34 pm

    Scoringlive had Kahuku beating McKinley (then 7-0) 63-36. I feel no matter who Kahuku has to get through at states, it wont be as tough as their ‘Iolani Classic schedule where they got wins against 3/4 out of state teams. They might’ve been the only team to play 4 non-Hawai’i teams at the ‘Iolani Classic. I agree with Education First about Villa. He’s on a different level. But, so much talent on the team. Sauvao and Ah Hoy make defense entertaining to watch and the new addition of Kaniho adds yet another lockdown defender. Avea and Fotu are highlight reels waiting to happen. Paul is spot on when he says Kahuku treats every game like it’s a championship game. The games I’ve watched of them, they’re relentless and hungry.

  5. Sole January 25, 2017 3:27 pm

    Punahou and Iolani will ALWAYS be a tough battle for ANYONE, including Kahuku. Kapolei looks solid as well. The scary thing about Kahuku is that at any given time, any one of their first seven guys could have big nights. We’ve even seen Codie Sauvao have double double games, Wright have double double games, etc. Most people, because stats don’t show this, don’t realize that FOTU, Avea, and Villa only play about 2 1/’2 quarters.

    So, I felt that this would hurt them going into games against the ILH, where their starters play most of every game because of the competition. That idea was shut down though when I heard how Akana runs their scrimmages in practice… ain’t first team against second team…Villa vs Sauvao, Avea vs Fotu, Kesi vs Damuni, etc., etc……EVERYDAY….

    Heard Punahou is very dangerous when they come out of their platoon system and Kobayashi is spot on….These guys beat Kahuku in pre season, but Kahuku was with out FOTU, SAUVAO, and Kaniho…..

    Shimamoto will always have Iolani ready and HUGH is very dominating on the boards and in the paint…..

    And Maryknoll has beaten them….Lahainaluna looks scary as well…..

    EVERYONE keeps talking about the three Kahuku guys that transferred, ok…..what about Kapolei? Have you seen them? Most of those guys ain’t from Hawaii. What about Kalaheo? They got a PG transfer and a center, Jankovich, brother of UH star, who is 6’9″……he is a transfer from out of state as well……Mckinley has a transfer from Chicago, who leads their team as well…..

  6. UH Hoops January 26, 2017 8:26 pm

    Education First,

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I don’t think it behooves you to advertise your blantant ignorance. I agree with you that Kahuku is a fantastic team with a great coach and great talent. Villa is an excellent player and it would be hard to argue your point that he is the best player in the state. However, your attack against Mid Pacific is unwarranted and ignorant. “Why would it change now?” every great program started somewhere. How many years was Iolani’S program established before their first title? Let’s go beyond high school…Duke? Golden State?! The Mid Pacific coach is getting the best out of his players (contradictory to your claim that his players and parents react to his style adversely), and most educated basketball spectators would agree. The ILH is tough, Hirata has consistently put his team in a position to win despite the fact that he doesn’t have the talent pool of Iolani, Punahou, Kamehameha or even Maryknoll for that matter. Great programs are made by changing the culture, that is what you are witnessing in progess at MPI. Mind you, Hirata was coach of the year two seasons ago. I’m not a MPI parent, player, coach of alumnus…just someone with common sense.

    As they say “if you think you can do a better job, then please apply.” Coaches don’t coach to get paid, they volunteer their time away from family for the players and for the game.

  7. Islandstyl January 26, 2017 8:30 pm

    I am going to make a prediction and say Fotu will leave after the season and go back to New Zealand. Samotu is a good player but UH wasted a scholarship on him. He will be a good D2 player. Not D1 at all.

    In regards to MPI, the coach there is slowly changing that atmosphere. It can’t be done over night. This year though they are quite undersized and young. But what that team does have is that they are fearless and they respond to their coach.

  8. Islandstyl January 26, 2017 8:32 pm

    Villa is a very good player. But in my opinion, Hogland is the best player in the state.

  9. Brandon Hashimori January 26, 2017 9:46 pm

    The guys talking about mid pac need to look at facts… their 1-6… How are they on the verge of top 10. Plain and simple this isn’t a good program. Many people have complained about the coaching at the varsity level… my friends son plays for the vars and i came early to watch the JV game, those guys are well coached they shoot well and play good defense.

  10. UH Hoops January 26, 2017 10:44 pm

    MPI beat Kapolei and Kalaheo who are in the top 10. MPI was within 10 of Iolani last night and was in control of the game until the end. This is versus a much overmatched Raider squat. Lost to #2 Punahou by 5. Before their current coach when were they this competitive? It has been a while. Also, the level of competition in the ILH is much more rigorous than the OIA, take that into account when critiquing their record. Every game is a battle. On any given night, anyone is beatable. 2 1/2 years at the helm, and MPI’s future looks positive despite critics.

  11. UH Hoops January 26, 2017 10:45 pm


  12. Education First January 27, 2017 11:19 am

    @ UH Hoops

    Ignorance? HAHA. I believe MPI has been playing basketball for over 30 years. How many titles do they have again? I am thinking zero? And how many ILH wins do they have now? I think 1. And you want to compare them to Iolani?

    I smell a HOMER in here. And for the record, several parents have told me the kids are slowly tuning him out. But then again you are not a MPI parent or supporter. (wink wink).

  13. Education First January 27, 2017 11:21 am

    @ Islandstyl

    I agree that Hogland is outstanding. It’s amazing to see the transformation he has made over the past 3 years. He went from a clumsy kid to a kid with a refined game with high basketball IQ. This speaks to the coaching he got at Iolani in addition to his desire to become great.

    I like Villa since he can control the game with the ball in his hand. Hogland is outstanding, but if you surround him with inferior guards he can be a non factor. Now if you put competent guards around him, then it’s a different story.

    I agree with you that Fotu will leave.

  14. Education First January 27, 2017 11:27 am

    @ UH Hoops, my apologies, I didn’t know preseason counted so much, especially when most coaches are tinkering with their schemes and rotations. And once again, my apologies. I didn’t know that moral victories was so important. But I guess when you have only 1 league win, you got to take anything and fluff it out to look special. I am guessing you are also someone who thinks each kid should get a participation trophy.

    Let’s see what happens when the senior heavy team who can only win 1 league game so far plays next year. Maybe drop down to D2?

    Coaches are judged in year 3. And year 3, unless something drastically happens, will be the doormat of the ILH again.

    And if you don’t thin the kids are tuning him out, why are they trending downwards?

    They lost by only 2 to Maryknoll, then about 1.5 weeks later they lose by 23. Then a few days later they loes by 16 to the last place STL team who cannot beat anyone other than the OWLS.

    If this is Owl Time, I wonder what would it look like when it’s not OWL TIME.

  15. MPI Parent January 27, 2017 1:55 pm

    My son plays ball for Coach Ryan at MPI. Yes, it is tough to turn around a program. There are glimpses of that happening….up by 8 against Punahou at half, up against Iolani in the 4th quarter. Good enough…hell no. But there are glimpses. Great Coach and School.

  16. Kahuna Noshimuri January 27, 2017 8:35 pm

    The program is going through a tough patch… Mid-Pac is very well coached and very talented. Keep in mind the Owls can still win it all if they get hot in the playoffs. #10 is very talented and did not play in the loss to Kamehameha. Mpi at full health when their clicking is as good as any ilh squad. They have great guard play and Zion Shepherd is a top 5 player in the ilh. The fact that their in every game and they don’t recruit or anything proves that Ryan Hirata is a great coach.

  17. Education First January 30, 2017 8:21 am

    @ MPI Parent, great school?

    I definitely agree. Good people and intelligent people come out of that school.

  18. Education First January 30, 2017 8:24 am

    Kahuna Noshimuri January 27, 2017 at 8:35 pm
    The program is going through a tough patch… Mid-Pac is very well coached and very talented. Keep in mind the Owls can still win it all if they get hot in the playoffs. #10 is very talented and did not play in the loss to Kamehameha. Mpi at full health when their clicking is as good as any ilh squad. They have great guard play and Zion Shepherd is a top 5 player in the ilh. The fact that their in every game and they don’t recruit or anything proves that Ryan Hirata is a great coach.

    I am sorry but I beg to disagree. They were not in the game against Maryknoll or STL. Those were blowouts. As for KS, they made a nice comeback. But they were down 19 in the 3rd. If KS’s head coach wasn’t missing, they don’t make that comeback.

    Coach Hirata is pretty good, but so are about 12-15 others.

    This is year 3, what is his record in the ILH over that time? I don’t think it’s too good.

  19. Education Last January 30, 2017 1:48 pm

    Education First, what is your problem with MPI? Did your kid get cut or something? All this hate coming out of nowhere. Do you have anything better to do than talk bad about an up and coming program? Their sophmore and freshmen classes are loaded. Their gonna be special in 2 years. Still curious why u hate midpac tho. Like seriously it’s just motivating them.

  20. Big Rone February 1, 2017 7:33 am

    Education last, you mention how the hate is motivating midpac, but it’s only motivating them to a 1-8 record. Soon to be 1-10. Originally there was the phrase of owls rising, when all we saw was owls dying or owls falling. Then it’s owl time, but it must be owl time to lose because 1-8 isn’t anything special. You can’t spell Owls without an L. Take the W out and make it OLS. If Hirata can’t lead a senior loaded team to s positive record, what makes everyone think that they’ll be any better next season all there seniors leaving. The coach is a failure, and he isn’t he man for the job to bring MPI a championship. He was a assistant coach at Iolani and it was on JV! not varsity, I question if he has the experience and the coaching talent to handle this type of job and this type of responsibility.

  21. MPI Parent February 1, 2017 12:25 pm

    Up by 6 in the fourth quarter last night against Punahou. Boys are competing. Coach Ryan is the best man for the job. It’s a tough one though, building a program. Especially without any football players to help in the middle.

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