The ‘Iolani Red Raiders endured quite a path to a state-tournament berth. Somewhere in the midst of all the ILH boys basketball drama — thankfully all on the hardwood — Coach Dean Shimamoto‘s team is still standing while two other teams (Kamehameha and Punahou) remain locked in a battle for the final berth. ‘Iolani is resting until Saturday, when it will play one of those teams for the ILH championship.
HPW: Winning the wild ILH tiebreaker playoff, then losing in the league playoff semifinals, it’s a crazy ride, isn’t it?
Shimamoto: You’re afforded some luxuries having won the game on Monday. It still gives us an opportunity on Saturday. After the fact, a little rest is good.
HPW: It comes down to timing.
Shimamoto: Different teams peak at different times. We lost the game yesterday and Saint Louis lost the game yesterday, but Kamehameha and Punahou lost their games last week, which put them in position. We all have basically the same records, we just won at the right time.
HPW: How do coaches keep their teams moving on from one long day to another?
Shimamoto: Last Friday before we played that Saturday tiebreaker, I said, remember when we played Punahou last and then we beat Saint Louis, all this stuff. They said no. It was last week Wednesday and they said, ‘What?’ It felt like a month ago. It’s the grind, so heavy mentally and physically.
Our guys have been grinding, Our coaches have been grinding and they’ve been going to school. You like to keep playing good ball.
HPW: There have been so many great games, so much parity, the only thing I’d do differently is have double-headers and triple-headers like the league did at Blaisdell Arena in the 1970s.
Shimamoto: We were supposed to host (Saturday’s tiebreaker doubleheader), but that environment (at Kamehameha) was great. There hasn’t been one that great more than once a year, maybe five, six years ago. That’s what you remember as a player and as a kid. The back-to-back format that was great.
(Note: ‘Iolani drew the home court, but couldn’t host due to a wrestling tournament.)
HPW: You still would rather have home court, though.
Shimamoto: The home court hasn’t yet really been that much of an advantage. We’ve lost at home, we’ve lost away. We won neutral court. There’s no “this team is really strong at home.” Look at last night. Punahou and Kamehameha won (on the road).
It’s like watching a marathon in front, someone is going to pull in front or fall behind, and it’s about sustaining yourself for the grind. Everyone’s just tired. It’s getting your wind and finishing hard at the right time.
Note: The Punahou-Kamehameha winner on Friday (at Punahou) will advance to the ILH championship game, Saturday, 6 p.m. If Kamehameha wins, the title game will be at Kamehameha. If Punahou wins, the game will be at ‘Iolani.