Jan. 13, 2015
1. Kalaheo (14) 158
2. Punahou (2) 146
3. Saint Louis 119
4. Kahuku 104
5. ‘Iolani 95
6. Farrington 90
7. Leilehua 52
8. Maryknoll 43
9. Lahainaluna 33
10. Baldwin 15
Also receiving votes: Campbell 12, Pahoa 5, McKinley 3, Roosevelt 3, Kamehameha 2.
Here we go again. Kalaheo got 14 first-place votes in the Star-Advertiser Top 10 released today. (Or last night, if you check this site daily.)
The weird thing is this: Punahou still has two first-place votes. This comes nearly two weeks after Kalaheo BEAT Punahou AT Punahou 41-40. The good and not-so-weird thing about a poll with 16 (or more) panelists is that obscure, strange voting is normally cancelled out by the masses.
So Punahou is No. 2 in the Top 10, and No. 2 on my ballot. That’s where things start to differ. I have Kahuku at No. 3 on my ballot while the poll has Saint Louis. I can’t really argue with STL at the 3 spot. They have a number of quality wins, and beating ‘Iolani AT ‘Iolani is as solid as it gets within the ILH.
But it’s not a surprise.
Kahuku, right now, is the third-best team in the state. They’ve got size, savvy, unselfishness. They can play fast or slow, big or small, and by small, I mean 5-9 and 5-10 in the backcourt, and 6-7, 6-5 and 6-2 in the frontcourt.
The Red Raiders were good enough to lead Kalaheo at Kalaheo last week before losing in OT. Love or hate them, they are what they are, and they are going to get better with time. Chemistry will build. They have the best big-man duo in the state with Hyrum Harris (6-5) and Denhym Brooke (6-7). The precision of Harris’ passes, not just to Brooke, but to the whole team is fun to watch.
I have Leilehua at No. 5 on my ballot. Few teams have played against top-level competition as well as the Mules, but they can’t seem to get over the hump with ‘Iolani and Farrington choking off the channel to a higher level. IOL is clearly going to be in the state-title hunt. Farrington? We’ll have to wait and see. They may have peaked in preseason. For a 6-foot-and-under team, they are superb.
The return of their big man, Se‘u Luafatasaga, is imminent — maybe. He had surgery to repair (or remove) cartilage in a knee after football season. He’s a 6-4 rock who is mobile, strong and completely OLD SCHOOL. He’s exactly what Coach Allan Silva‘s squad is missing: a reliable rebounder, defender and low-post scorer who plays selflessly.
He and current go-to inside scorer Tua Unutoa actually suited up with Kalaheo in a summer league two summers ago, but they stayed at Farrington. Unutoa was a key secondary contributor to Farrington’s run to the state final last year. But he’s really been asked to do a lot at 5-10; he is a 3-point shooter who is fundamentally sound, smart and quick against bigs on the post. When Luafatasaga returns, the Govs will be much less pressed to finish strong against bigger, longer teams.
Lahainaluna deserves its spot in the Top 10. Maryknoll, too. Wins and losses are cut and dried, but the Spartans’ narrow, quality losses last week speak a language of their own to voters like me.
My only remaining difference: Pahoa. They’ve beaten everyone but Saint Louis, yet they can’t crack the Top 10? Baldwin will be solid. Lord knows the size and talent are there, but the Bears have losses to Roosevelt (a solid team) and Maui. Yes, Maui. Another solid team, but really, punishing one-loss Pahoa while rewarding Baldwin is ludicrous at this point.