It’s been roughly a week since I embarked on the annual preseason Roundball route, a.k.a. Pupule hoops tour.
In years (decades, actually) past, the tour includes preseason tournaments. That’s still in play. But it also used to include games against some of the varsity teams on the Big Island. Me and and handful of hoopaholic friends would pile into our jalopies and trod on to faraway destinations like Kohala, Hawaii Prep, Honokaa, Laupahoehoe and even across the island to Pahoa, Waiakea and Haumana (now defunct). Oh, we had our share of games at Ka‘u.
They took us on because, well, we were competitive, yet not loaded mercilessly with ringers. Our Pupule Ohana team started mostly with media guys like Bill O’Rear (former small college All-American) and Bobby Command (mere mortal). Over time, it was mostly guys from my men’s league. We were mostly 5-foot-6 to 5-11. Occasionally, a 6-footer would play with us. But we hit the road and had great memories playing some of the top teams of the 1990s.
A Honokaa squad with future UH lineman Kaulana Noa beat us 72-71 on a last-second putback by Davin “Taich” Alip. That crowd was brutal and awesome. Nothing like a Honokaa crowd. There were other losses now and then. A loss at Waiakea when they pressed us fullcourt late in the game. We didn’t have our point guard (Fast Eddie Dias) that night. There were one or two losses to those stacked Konawaena teams in the mid-’90s. They had studs like Wilton Paogofie, then Brandon Cablay, who ended up becoming BIIF players of the year.
Brandon was special. The guy was 5-11 and doing any dunk you requested. He had a nice pull-up jumper and major handles. The best 1-on-1 Hawaii high school player I ever saw. (Note: I saw Alan Tanabe up close in our halfcourt 3-on-3 tournaments, but he was in his 30s by then, and when I saw him play pickup ball in his prime during the HPC years, he was long past high school. But he might be the only one better than Cablay in terms of 1-on-1.)
Brandon is still playing pro basketball in the Philippines. Not bad at all.
We went to two overtimes one year against Kohala, another near-packed house at Kamehameha Gym. With our team up 2, I got called for a hack on a 3-point shot by the Cowboys as time expired. Only thing is, I was five feet away from the kid. Oh, gotta love exhibition games. We ended up winning that game, barely.
Best thing about all those games is, I got to see up close exactly what the BIIF had to offer. Talk about Game Speed. Second-best thing was that the schools made a little extra money on admission and concession stands.
Anyway, it’s different now. The Pupule Ohana games came to a halt one year after a Waiakea alumni player sued the school for his knee injury in the alumni game. Talk about suckage.
Now it’s 2012 and my fun playing basketball is limited to midnight games on a 54-foot long indoor court (24-Hour Fitness), the perfect length for old futs like me. And I still go to a lot of tournaments when they arrive.
But back to the past week. Some quick notes.
• Kamehameha @ Kalani, girls: 3-point shooters, nimble posts, cohesion. The Warriors have it going nicely right now, and the versatility of Alohi Robins-Hardy is hard to match. She’s 6-1 and that’s legit. I’m 5-11 and she pretty much towers over me. The Lady Falcons are small, quick and learning under Hina Kimitete, the former Konawaena all-state guard.
• Kaimuki @ Maryknoll, girls: The Chargers pulled The last of the Fa‘asoa sisters (Dejah) graduated last June, and now the Lady Bulldogs are trying to get situated with some new talent in the backcourt. They’re not big aside from transfer Princess Lauvao is a strong, quick post/wing. A guard who can post. A post who can drive. Maryknoll? They have Chico Furtado at the helm and he has not softened since those glory years at Kalaheo. The Spartans don’t have a superstar type of player, but they’ve got depth and several players who can light it up.
• Pearl City @ Kaimuki, boys: PC 60-47. The Chargers simply wore the Bulldogs down on a night Kaimuki was missing half its team due to academic issues. Tough to gauge either team under the circumstances, but I like the way Chargers coach Lionel Villarmia stayed on top of his crew from start to finish. They play solid D at Pearl City.
• Kapolei vs. Kaimuki, boys: ‘Canes 56, ‘Dawgs 37. This was on day 1 of the McKinley Black & Gold Classic. Bulldogs still shorthanded, but playing hard. Hurricanes are deep, tall, athletic and have a steady, seasoned backcourt led by Curtis Tavares and Joshua Wills. That perimeter shooting is key. Are the ‘Canes the favorite in the West? We’ll see how soon they can gel.
• Maryknoll vs. McKinley, boys: Spartans were too big, too skilled, too strong in a 72-48 win. Tigers have a young team, a lot of young guards. Alex Ironside is gone (graduation), and Duane Omori is the new coach. Won’t be the same without Bob Morikuni in charge, but the system is in place, and it has been quite successful for a long time.
• Maryknoll vs. Kaimuki, boys: Spartans 86, ‘Dawgs 22. It was rough enough for Kaimuki with the AP issues, but this was SAT Saturday, which meant two more starters were out. The Spartans were down to seven players, but their best three were still there: Josh Burnett, Tobias Schramm and Caleb Gilmore. I wrote about this game in our print edition (Sunday). Spartans went 3-0 in this tourney, including a 60-50 win over Kapolei that I wish I could’ve seen. But that was on Friday night and I was at the all-star football game. That turned out to be a good game. If anyone has video of the Maryknoll-Kapolei game, please send a copy my way. Buy you lunch.
• McKinley vs. Radford, boys: Tigers won 57-34. Rams are interesting bunch, fairly young, but a lot of energy. Except in this game, the third in 2 1/2 days. McKinley has some nice potential. Like recent Tiger teams, most of their guys know how to play within themselves. They don’t settle for poor shots. That goes a long, long way in OIA basketball.
• Waipahu vs. Roosevelt, boys. Rough Riders won this one 60-51, even though point guard Isaiah Visoria sat most of the night with foul trouble. It was interesting to see what the taller, bigger Marauders did early — score inside — before going to more of a perimeter drive-based attack by games end. Some nice talent on that squad. Roosevelt is small, maybe the smallest boys varsity team the school has fielded. Ever. But they can shoot. A whole bunch of guys hit 3-pointers, making it tough for Waipahu to match up. That might be the reason why their bigs weren’t on the floor late in the game, chasing Roosevelt.
Last night, I saw Kapolei play Radford (girls) and that story is in today’s print edition. Notes are here on Prep World. The rest of the week will be interesting with the Jim Alegre Classic and brand-new Kailua tournament. Kailua now has Walter Marciel as head coach, which means there are two coaches on the Windward side out of the same coaching tree that was planted by the late Pete Smith.
In a bit of a twist, another Pete protege, Tim Harrison, stepped down at Kailua in the offseason and is now helping out at Kalaheo. His son, Kupaa, transfered there from ‘Iolani and will provide a tall, rangy 3-point sharpshooter to what is already a superb Mustangs lineup.
Kailua has ‘Iolani in its tourney. Kalaheo, meanwhile, won last night against Hilo in the Waiakea/Keaau tournament on the Big Island.
Alegre Classic? Punahou, Kamehameha, Moanalua… can’t go wrong there. Punahou plays Roosevelt at 6 p.m. The Buffanblu are defending state champs and still loaded despite the graduation of many key role players and player of the year DeForest Buckner.
Jimmy Alegre. A true gentleman of sport. He was always asking me if I wanted to eat some food. It only made sense, though. He was a Honokaa boy, and boy, they know how to cook some ono food in Honokaa.
Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser