(Note: This column has been revised to correct information about Kaiser and Kapolei’s status in the Oahu Interscholastic Association’s double-elimination tournament.)
It’s a helluva playoff format when a regular-season king, or queen in this case, is on the brink of missing the state tourney. That was the scenario for both Kapolei and Kaiser after they lost in the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference girls basketball tournament.
Kaiser lost to a hot Kahuku squad, then got past Campbell to seal a berth in the state tourney. But if the Cougars had somehow lost to Campbell, their splendid season would’ve ended despite two months of excellence through a rough OIA Red East slate. The possibility of a regular-season first-place team being knocked out is preposterous. That’s what Kaiser, and far too many regular-season first-place teams in various sports have dealt with over the years. Kaiser received a better fate than countless teams of yesteryear that were perfect until the playoffs, finding their seasons prematurely over in a previous format that was single-elimination.
By finishing first in the OIA Red East — no easy feat — Kaiser should’ve been in the state tournament automatically, period. Are 12 games not enough to earn that right? The OIA remains the only league in the state that has no true reward for 3 months of hard work. Winning the regular season amounts to nothing more than a first-round bye.
OIA decision makers place late-season hot streaks over daily work ethic and consistency. It would’ve been equally bad, maybe worse, had Kapolei lost and fallen short of the state tourney. The Hurricanes went 12-0 in the regular season, but lost in the second round of the playoffs, which sent them into do-or-die status. (Kapolei qualified for the state tourney with a win over tough Pearl City.)
Once again, the OIA rewards our most consistent, hard-working teams (regular-season winners) with the real possibility of an exit door. All regular-season champs should get state berths, PERIOD.
Six Division I state berths, and the league can’t figure out how to give one to a deserving first-place finisher. What a great message the adults continue to teach the children.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser