Merry Roundball, Day 2 (update 10:40 pm)

Update 10:40 p.m. Final: No. 3 Punahou 74, Farrington 49. This really looked great in the first six minutes with both teams running the break and pressing fullcourt. Then a 20-16 game turned into a 41-17 runaway before halftime. Punahou: deep, talented, fast, determined and balanced.

Farrington could be formidable given time. With their big lineup, it was tough to match up with Punahou’s quickness and speed. The Govs could go small against fast teams or simply go big and pound inside, but taking care of the ball is an issue right now. They’ve got time to work on it.

Punahou, though, looks very ready at this point. Darren Matsuda’s squad is the deepest of contenders and all I wonder right now is whether Maryknoll can actually beat Punahou. Maryknoll plays Moanalua in the Na Menehune Challenge finale tomorrow night. Hoping I can catch that one.

Update 9:25 p.m. ILH continues to rule here at Moanalua. Kamehameha pulled away for a 45-35 win over Moanalua and No. 1 Maryknoll rolled over Kahuku 64-28. Kahuku guard Kawehena Johnson isn’t here due to a football visit to New Mexico State. That wasn’t good news at all for the Red Raiders, who committed 16 turnovers in the first half. They’ll get better, but right now, it’s all athleticism and not a lot of crispness.

Maryknoll is just dominant. Two new players, both transfers from New Zealand, made their debuts. (See more in tomorrow’s Star-Advertiser.) I can only wonder how good they would’ve been with the 6-7 kid from Australia. His visa request didn’t pan out.

Kamehameha was fairly sharp, but Makoa Camanse-Stevens got hurt again (ankle) and the Warriors nearly blew an 18-point lead from that point in the third quarter. Just about every team is one injury away from falling off the peak. It’s already a very good preseason so far.

In the late game, No. 3 Punahou leads Farington 57-35 late in the third quarter. This was a 20-16 game late in the first quarter and looked like a Westhead sprint session. But Punahou’s depth (again) was too much and in the blink of an eye, it was 41-17 in the second quarter. Scary good.

Update 5:55 p.m. No. 5 ‘Iolani 60, No. 6 Kapolei 50 in the first game of the day at Na Menehune ILH-OIA Challenge. Raiders executed well in the final quarter, even as Kapolei chipped away and cut the lead to two points after its standout post, Christopher Dillard, fouled out. Dillard is playing on the wing much more, but still getting used to the change. He fouled out on a drive to the basket.

‘Iolani is arguably the smartest team in the state. They don’t have size like last year, with 6-5 Gabo Vega and 6-3 Duke Pauli graduated. But they play aggressive, smart basketball. Immeasurable in most ways.

4:45 p.m. Here we go. I’m at Moanalua, where the second day of Na Menehune Challenge — the ILH-OIA crossover battles — are underway. ‘Iolani leads Kapolei in the fourth quarter 50-45 with 5:04 remaining.

If you missed Jason Kaneshiro’s story this morning, the ILH won all four games against the OIA last night. I would’ve expected a split, especially with Moanalua coming off a 3-0 week at the Alegre Classic with wins over Punahou and Kamehameha. Instead, Moanalua lost 56-51 to ‘Iolani, which played well last week at the Kailua tourney.

Thing is, ‘Iolani rotated so many players, platooning five for five, that I didn’t expect a win over Moanalua. Even with their football guys getting back into basketball shape. So there we have it. The ILH is clearly the dominant league, right?

Not so fast. I really expected, or hoped, that the expanded training time for OIA teams in the offseason would  lead to a huge improvement. I’ve seen a lot of programs work hard and maximize this opportunity. But the rule change also prompted the ILH to relax its offseason training time, and teams like ‘Iolani and Moanalua love the opportunity to work, work, work.

I love this game in large part because diligent, continuous hard work is often rewarded. It doesn’t take money to develop a 3-point shot or ballhandling skills. For now, though, it seems that some of the best public schools still have some catching up to do. Moanalua is there already with the elite, and so are a few other OIA programs.

There’s no disguising the results of great work ethic, or the lack of it.

More later.

Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser



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