OIA to demote Kalaheo boys basketball to Division II

Kalaheo boys basketball coach Rob Pardini could be coaching his team in Division II next season despite winning two of the last four OIA D-I titles. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Two Division I league championships in the last four seasons.

Four D-I league titles in the last seven years.

In all, Kalaheo has captured 16 Oahu Interscholastic Association championships in boys basketball in the D-I level and the pre-classification era. No other school has won more OIA championships in the sport.

As of Tuesday night, the league’s administrative policy in shuffling D-I and D-II teams based on air-tight grouping numbers in the East and West, and power rating (wins and losses) — now on an annual basis — means that Kalaheo will move down to D-II next season. The shuffle was made at the OIA basketball coordinator and coaches meeting. It is not quite official yet, but the rest of the process is mere formality.

There will be one more coaches meeting, according to the OIA, with an unspecified date. If no East D-I team is willing to move down to D-II, Kalaheo will be officially in D-II.

“Right now, Kalaheo is slotted to go down since they finished in eighth place during the regular season. They can request to move up,” OIA coordinator John Chung said.

Kalaheo finished fifth in the OIA playoffs and qualified for the D-I state tournament. Chung and OIA executive director Raymond Fujino also confirmed that even if Kalaheo had won the D-I state tourney, the demotion to OIA D-II would still be made due to administrative policy.

Unless there is a sudden move and a D-I team agrees to move down to D-II, this is what next season’s changes will be.

Moving up to OIA East D-I:
> Farrington
> Kaiser

Moving down to OIA East D-II:
> Kalaheo
> McKinley

Moving up to OIA West D-I:
> Nanakuli

Moving down to OIA East D-II:
> Radford

Farrington was senior-heavy and will lose most of its talent to graduation. Kaiser is a young team stoked by underclassmen. Kalaheo and McKinley are also young teams.

Power rating has been part of OIA administrative policy for decades. It is not recommended by the National Federation of High Schools, however. The OIA, with an extremely wide spectrum of talent across the board in all sports, has relied on power rating in large part because some of the schools with the largest enrollments lack feeder programs in sports like volleyball, soccer, baseball and softball. The league prefers a single, universal approach to all sports.

“Kalaheo is going down? The OIA has to re-think their processes,” said former Kalaheo boys and girls coach Chico Furtado.

Now the Maryknoll girls basketball coach, Furtado guided the Kalaheo boys to the OIA title in 2004. Prior to that, he led the girls program to OIA crowns from ’98 to ’02.

“Kalaheo has good returnees coming back. Farrington should never have been D-II this year. Outdated formats continue to be used. The athletic directors have to get out of their ‘business as usual’ mind-set,” he said.

Another unwieldy aspect is how geographical imbalances have become prominent. In the East, basketball teams have fared with much more success than the West in boys and girls competition during the playoffs, as well as the state tournament. However, the West has been dominant in baseball, softball and soccer. Softball, in particular, has been an OIA West domain, as powerful as the private-school ILH.

In other words, Kalaheo’s demotion in boys basketball from OIA East D-I to D-II makes far less sense than the demotion of a team in the OIA West. Kalaheo’s four wins over Top 10 teams is more than most of the West’s top teams: Leilehua (three), Campbell (one), Mililani (none).

Only Kapolei, the first-place team in the West, had more Top 10 wins than Kalaheo: six.

Under Coach Rob Pardini, the Mustangs won the OIA D-I championship in 2016 and ’18. This year, with a very young roster — just one senior — Kalaheo was 17-17 overall and 5-6 in regular-season play. The Mustangs then posted playoff wins over Leilehua, Kalani and Mililani, on the road, to qualify for the D-I state tournament.

Kalaheo was ranked in the Top 10 for six weeks this season. They were 16-1 against unranked teams. This year’s team beat four Top 10 teams: Lahainaluna, St. Francis, Kalani and Mililani. The Mustangs also lost two close games to state and ILH finalist Punahou, 81-79 (neutral court) and 77-71 (Punahou Invitational).

With most of the entire team returning next season, the tall, talented Mustangs would contend for the OIA D-I and state D-I crowns. They have 6-foot-5 Ryan Owens and 6-4 Robert Thompson in the post with 3-point range, and 6-1 guards Kanoa Smith and Luke Pardini — all will be returning starters. Coach Pardini will also have a pair of 6-3 posts, Iokepa Kalepa and Anthony Caswell, in the mix.

The system, as is, demotes them to D-II whether it is an accurate representation of D-II in the OIA or not. At this point, the OIA is locked into a format that groups seven teams in OIA East D-I and seven in OIA West D-II. There are six teams in D-II combined.

Farrington, with one of the largest enrollments in the state, won the OIA D-II title two weeks ago. Along the way, they played an integrated schedule in OIA East play and beat four Top 10 teams.

The Governors also reached the D-II state final, drawing a large audience to Stan Sheriff Center on championship night. Damien, which defeated Farrington 73-50, plans to declare D-I status for next season.

OIA schools have played in the final of the D-II state tourney 11 out of the 13 years since the new classification was established in boys basketball for the 2006-07 season. OIA D-II teams have won the state title six times.

Unofficial grouping for 2019-20 season, OIA boys basketball:

OIA East D-I


OIA West D-I
Pearl City



  1. Hmmm? February 27, 2019 12:33 pm

    Make it like state of Indiana…

  2. JetWavy February 27, 2019 4:21 pm

    Not a good look for Kalaheo to have to drop back down to Div2. I’m sure they’d rather compete at D1 even in a down year.

  3. Mahatma Gandhi February 27, 2019 5:48 pm

    I remember when Kalaheo ruled the ILH. So many final state championship games too, under the legendary Pete Smith. The many close losses to Iolani in the state championship game. Pete Smith was the godfather of OIA basketball until he went make. Radford used to rule OIA basketball in the 1960’s and 1970s. Them and their fine popolo players. No way is Kalaheo a Div 2 team. Div 2 is for schools like Waialua and Kalani.

  4. RJ February 27, 2019 11:32 pm

    I know that it’s technically protocol, but this would be an extremely bad look for not just Kalaheo, but for the OIA if a blue blood like Kalaheo was demoted. Sure it was a down year but they still continued their streak of making 7 straight state tournaments (longest active streak in Hawaii).

  5. Northshore February 28, 2019 8:27 am

    Paul: And yes, that’s the criteria (power rating) used to decide what teams will be playing in Division I or II, not by enrollment. For several years, and it has been mentioned, when it comes to ranking Div I and II teams, they should never be ranked together during the season but you keep on ranking them by their win/loss record because you’re still waiting for a criteria that would be to your liking…enrollment. Hopefully next year, we will be see the weekly rankings by divisions and not by Japan’s Sumo rankings?lol! Mahalo for all the sports article, it’s been fun reading some of your articles.

  6. NotaSandbagger February 28, 2019 9:52 am

    So how does it work if a D2 clearly needs to move up to play D1? ILH Softball? Not much of a competition anymore.

  7. oldtimah February 28, 2019 12:28 pm

    Alika took the DII State champs in 2012 and followed it up with the DI State champs in 2013 so why all the whining. It is what it is.

    Both the legend Pete and Alika won and lost with class and were always in line for after game hand shakes. Up till this year the current coach used to stand and wait to the opposing players and coaches walked up to him.

    KALAHEO has a great basketball winning tradition with great coaches they will make it happen.

  8. Loca1boiAnonymous February 28, 2019 3:27 pm


    Kalaheo did not belong in D2 whatsoever the year they won states. Everybody knew that. It was almost as ridiculous as Damien being in it this year with the 6-7 transfer.

  9. Just saying February 28, 2019 4:11 pm

    I think this system is flawed. If Kalaheo advanced to the State Tourney, placing fifth amongst all OIA teams this year, they shouldn’t even be in consideration for demotion, especially with the fact that they have a young team, only one senior?. I think the league should look at the fact of how they did this past year, what they have coming back next year, and what they have coming from the JV team(and their record). Making States should exempt them, why not have a team like Kalani or Roosevelt go down? or other teams that didn’t make it to States? Farrington, although they made it to the D2 Championship game, lose a lot of seniors from this years team, what do they have coming back, and what do they have coming up from JV? What will verify them coming up to D1 next year?
    Damien should’ve came up from D2 this year, they lost in the D2 championship game last year, so why did n’t they make the move this past year? It should’ve been automatic that they came up this year along with St Francis. who’s to say they would’ve even made it to States this year, with the schedule the ILH had, playing 3 games a week against top 10 schools on a weekly basis? Facing Maryknoll, Punahou, Iolani, St Francis, Kamehameha, St Louis, and Mid Pac.

  10. Adam Werner March 1, 2019 1:22 pm

    If everyone plays each other within their own geographical division, all east schools play east schools, and same for west schools, what’s the point of classification? I may be wrong, but I believe that’s the way its always been since D2 starting. I just speaking only for OIA.

    I would just have the top 6 teams go to the D1 playoff and the next 3 go to the D2 playoff and play it out. For example, Farrington finished the regular season with a record of 8-3 or something close to that. That would have placed them between 2nd-4th in the east. Would they have done damage like they did in the D2 playoffs or states? Who knows? But they did beat both teams that made the OIA finals and was ranked at points during the season. The same can be said bout Damien. And look what two teams made the state finals in D2.

    Should Farrington have been in D2, looking back in retrospect, no. I’m calling it know, if Kalaheo wins the OIA or states in D2 next year, someone is going to complain that they shouldn’t have belong. By having everyone play everyone else it makes no sense to classify and I think my suggestion for the playoff works best. The best of the best will be in the D1 playoffs, the next tier in D2 and if you didnt make any playoff, well there is always the next year.

    Have a good day everyone.

  11. DWB March 1, 2019 6:51 pm

    Dropping Kalaheo down to D2 in basketball is like dropping Kahuku down to D2 in football…it should just not happen. I agree that regional powerhouses in football should have multiple divisions to keep games safe, fun and enjoyable from blowouts, time and time again….BUT we are talking basktball! Nobody is consistently blowing out KALAHEO! They have have more Ws than Ls in their win/loss column.

    You are PUNISHING kids who have a DREAM to win the state D1 title! Kids who are more than capable and a school with a track record to prove it! A team other schools mark on their schedule as “the team” to beat!

    Damien and Farrington both had deserved a D1 title shot this year and both deservingly wanted to move up and maybe the case should be made that the top ILH and OIA D2 team plays in the D1 tournament. However neither school has the track record of KALAHEO who made it to the D1 state tournament this year. Where is the logic in dropping them to D2, when they are projected to be better than last year? Go figure! SMH.

  12. Loca1boiAnonymous March 2, 2019 12:02 pm


    I agree with your main point but by no means is Kalaheo the equivalent to basketball as Kahuku is to football.

  13. Island sports guy March 4, 2019 8:44 pm

    Basketball in hawaii sucks period low grade terrible coaches with no experience plus no one cares about nothing but volleyball and football.

  14. JetWavy March 6, 2019 2:32 pm

    @ 13

    Hawai’i sends a crap ton of baseball players to college and pros, also. Teams come down to the ‘Iolani Classic and Punahou Invitational all the time and get their asses handed to them by local teams. From 2017-2018, this state has had 4 division one players come through the state. I’m sure there are a ton of states out there that can’t say the same.

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