Editor’s note: Paul Honda’s account of the game can be found at http://www.starbulletin.com/sports/highschool/20100103_moanalua_dominates_kalaheo.html
By Paul Honda
If there were ever a time this season, an opportunity for two basketball teams to approach offensive efficiency to the nth power, tonight’s Kalaheo-Moanalua boys matchup might be it.
Yeah, really. Though I’d really, really be surprised if either team approach the century mark, it wasn’t that long ago (maybe 25 years?) when Kalaheo and Farrington rewarded fans during another recession-era game with a 102-94 tilt. (Won by Kalaheo, which was led by Duane Bradley).
That game was surprising in one way. It was Farrington that was noteworthy for its run-and-gun game led by Leo Leopoldo. In the years just prior to the 3-point line, some 1980s-era coaches like Farrington’s Harry Pacarro were willing and ready to platoon 5 for 5 and press all night long. Craziness? Maybe just a teeny bit.
Pacarro knew what other uptempo disciples knew: Over 32 minutes, talent wins out — but only if the talent has opportunity after opportunity. George Weeks, now coaching the Hawaii Baptist boys, let his girls team at Kalani play at fast-foward speed for two seasons, and they nearly averaged 70 points per game while reaching the state tourney.
So, as tip-off approaches for tonight’s Oahu Interscholastic Association* opener, my pre-game prayer goes something like this. Lord, keep all the kids safe from harm. Keep all of us traveling to the game shielded from harm. And please, please, please, let both teams catch fiiiire and pass the 100-point mark sometime in the fourth, maybe even the third quarter.
It’s barely regular-season time. Lock-down defensive mode and mentality has not quite solidified; it’s human nature to take defense much more seriously in the playoffs. Maybe it’s just because most coaches tend to be a little more lax and tolerant in preseason, but I saw one of these two teams have spurts of playground-style ball — and errors — while its coach just stood there on the sideline like a scientist in a lab, absorbing data and not flinching even once.
Can you guess who? Chico Furtado is already in mid-season form, barking at a player last week for taking a mid-range shot while his team was running its offense clunkily. Kalaheo eventually won that game against Island Pacific (go watch them at least once this year and you’ll be surprised, maybe), but Chico clearly sets boundaries early in the season. Always has. You train the minds at an early age and success follows.
But at Moanalua, Greg Tacon is a little more flexible. He has his system. He has his guidelines and standards. But as his younger players made a mistake or two in a loss to St. Joseph, he rarely tore into his guys. That’s a gift from the coach to his players during the holiday season. I’m not saying he’s softer than Chico. I am saying that his Na Menehune players have a bit more leash, and if they’re hot early, he might let them run and run and run.
Marcus Monroe could be hot from deep. So could Josiah Kauhola. They have playmakers in the backcourt. There’s enough depth. People won’t get too tired if it turns into a track meet.
Kalaheo? Kona Makaula could find openings as Moanalua blankets the state’s best scorer (so far), Aaron Fernandez. But Kalaheo doesn’t have a consistent third scoring option just yet.
Realistically, Kalaheo hasn’t come close to a 100-point game yet. Moanalua scored 74 against a team willing to run (Hawaii Baptist) and 80 against Radford. If Moanalua jumps to a big lead early and keeps the pace quick, Kalaheo might have no choice but to keep up.
If that means we have a 100-point (combined score) total at halftime, so be it. I’ll just be thankful for an answered prayer.
End note: After seeing games in Moanalua’s gym for many years now, I have to ask this: do the somewhat dim lights and deep space behind the backboards have an effect on long-range shooters?
I went from the ‘Iolani Classic (every day for several days) to Moanalua (a couple of days) and couldn’t help but notice how some shooters were just not close on their launches. ‘Iolani’s gym, if you haven’t been there, is beautiful and compact. Banners high up on every wall, and each wall is very close to the court. Not quite as close as ancient barns at Ka‘u or Pahoa, but reasonably similar. Lighting? Might be the best of all high school gyms.
The closeness of those walls does help shooters, in my opinion. Then you have a spacey gym like Moanalua (factor in a place like Stan Sheriff Center or Blaisdell Arena), and it takes some time to adjust.
Could be just the lighting. I remember picking up a ball after finishing a story about a game at Blaisdell years ago. Bill O’Rear (a.k.a. Bill O’Hoops) of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald played a game of H-O-R-S-E, and though we were cold, we couldn’t miss. Bill’s a deadly long-range shooter (formerly of UH-Hilo fame) and I’m usually not. But the lighting in Blaisdell is always bright. It doesn’t hurt.
Anyway, tangent over. Here’s hoping for a centuryesque night.
* For you, the person who actually reads the Associated Press Stylebook: Yes, first reference means you spell out the words and use an acronym for later references. Or your editor will fix it anyway.
Contact Paul Honda at firstname.lastname@example.org.