This week’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser Boys Basketball Top 10 may be the most convoluted and, to a lesser degree, confusing selection process in a year of tremendous parity.
Maryknoll took the reigns for the first time this winter after gathering six out of the 11 first-place votes from the panel of coaches and media. In all, four teams received at least one top vote, but the Spartans finished with a double-digit margin ahead of No. 2 Punahou.
Maryknoll (18-2, 4-1 Interscholastic League of Honolulu) had flip-flopped between No. 3 and No. 4 in the first four weeks of polling before rising to No. 2 last week. The Spartans then lost at home to Kamehameha 34-33 — the Warriors returned to the Top 10 at No. 8 today — before defeating Punahou 55-49 on Saturday afternoon.
While voters forgave the ballhawking Spartans for the loss to a young, dangerous Kamehameha squad, they left the two spots after No. 2 Punahou alone. ‘Iolani and Damien are again Nos. 3 and 4 respectively.
Damien, which was 6-2 in preseason against ranked teams — they split games with Punahou, and also split with St. Francis — actually received three first-place votes. The logic tilts in favor of Maryknoll and Damien, but the latter’s status as a Division II team has kneecapped the Monarchs in the minds of panelists. So has the lack of elite competition in ILH D-II.
Strength of schedule hasn’t been strong of late, but what about the resume? Damien has wins over St. Francis, Kalaheo, Punahou, Kailua, Lahainaluna, Maryknoll and Kamehameha.
“These coaches talk about us being in D-II and discounting our body of work in the preseason. Farrington is a D-II beating the ranked D-I teams,” Damien coach Alvin Stephenson said.
What he dislikes about the rankings is the lack of respect for straight wins and losses. Damien could have signed up to be in D-I when the ILH declaration date arrived last June, but Stephenson acknowledged that he didn’t realize his young team would fare this well.
“The talent on the island has gotten a lot better. The schools are even and anyone can win on any given night. They should just give credit to where credit is due,” Stephenson said. “My boys work just as hard. It’s not there fault that we are in D-II. They want to play all the teams to prove to people it’s not a fluke. Sorry for venting. It’s just frustrating to have to explain to the boys about politics, and life is not fair all the time.”
There is only one other D-II team in the Top 10: Farrington at No. 5. The Governors leap-frogged from last week’s No. 9 spot after posting wins over Kahuku and Kailua. If Damien is affected by recency bias — there hasn’t been a win over a Top 10 team since Dec. 21 — Farrington is benefiting from the same factor.
The Govs were swept by four opponents at the ‘Iolani Classic, including unranked Campbell and Roosevelt, and have since beaten four ranked foes: Moanalua, Kalaheo, Kahuku and Kailua.
Saint Louis, Kailua, Kamehameha, Lahainaluna and St. Francis round out the Top 10. Lahainaluna (9-5, 4-0 Maui Interscholastic League) is still riding momentum since edging St. Francis the day after Christmas. The Lunas beat Kamehameha-Maui and King Kekaulike last week.
“We don’t have to be in there,” Lahainaluna coach Jason Justus said of the rankings.
While Justus muses that his Lunas have yet to put together a complete game, they’re among the most improved teams since week 1. That’s in the midst of a massive glut of quality teams that have ranged up and down from No. 5 to No. 10 and well beyond.
While the girls poll has included as few as 11 teams receiving votes, the boys balloting has been congested and intriguing with its depth.
Week 1 (Dec. 3): 19 teams received votes
Week 2 (Dec. 10): 15
Week 3 (Dec. 17): 15
Week 4 (Dec. 24): 17
Week 5 (Dec. 31): 16
Week 6 (Jan. 7): 17
Week 7 (Jan. 14): 17
Since week 3, seven teams have floated out of the rankings and some have returned.
Week 3: Kahuku and Kailua, tied at No. 10 the week before, both drop out. Saint Louis arrives for the first time at No. 9.
Week 4: No. 7 Mid-Pacific is voted out. Kailua returns at No. 8.
Week 5: No. 7 Moanalua is demoted. Kahuku returns at No. 10.
Week 6: No. 8 Kamehameha and No. 10 Kahuku are filtered out. Farrington and Lahainaluna land in the poll for the first time this season at No. 9 and No. 10, respectively.
Week 7: No. 8 Kalaheo falls out for the first time all season. Kamehameha takes Kalaheo’s place.
Some voters shared their thoughts on a season that has been fun for fans and maybe less so for coaches. This week’s voting was especially tricky.
Brandyn Akana, Kahuku
“It took me a couple of days to figure it out. I still don’t know if it’s correct, but what a crazy season. The most challenging part was figuring out who beat who. It seems like everyone is beating each other. One of the most difficult season in high school basketball history. I’m excited to see how this drama season unfolds!”
Steve Hathaway, Roosevelt
“Normally it only takes me a couple of minutes. This time it took me five. Most challenging part is where to put the ILH teams when they beat each other. Also, I still have not seen a few of them. Also, where to rank Damien. It’s easier for me to rank Farrington higher because right now they are taking out all of the D-I teams. Damien did beat a lot in the preseason, but teams tend to play differently then with different rotations and experimenting more. Would love to see them playing all those D-I ILH teams now to see how they match up.”
Sol Batoon, Saint Louis
“It’s a process that I go through during the week, based on the success of the teams that are already rated. At any given night in the ILH D-I, anyone could win. The most challenging part is the OIA, BIIF and MIL, and it’s because we don’t get a chance to see them play very much during the season. It’s pretty hard to evaluate teams in the preseason because most of the teams are looking at their players, and trying to put together their regular-season team. Thus, it could be deceiving if you had judged everything on the preseason play. However, in my 40-plus years of coaching, I must say the coaches are dedicated, committed and determined to develop their programs.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10
|Updated: Mar. 16|
|1.||Saint Louis (6)||94|