Saint Louis, Damien (club) play 1st prep hoops game since February 2020

At last, a sense of normalcy.

Saint Louis 53, Damien* 42.

There was a basketball game on Friday night in the brand-new T.C. Ching Athletic Center at Kalaepohaku, and an exhibition at that. The first hoops contest in a high school facility since last winter pitted the Crusaders against a club team comprised of Damien players.

Saint Louis Coach Dan Hale and Damien Coach Keith Spencer agreed to specified COVID-19 protocols before the matchup. With basketball season among five winter sports cancelled by the private-school Interscholastic League of Honolulu, some programs are exploring alternative options. It’s a better situation for the private schools. The public-school Oahu Interscholastic Association cancelled all winter sports, leaving players and coaches with no facilities to use for exhibitions.

The liability issue is a major part of the equation for OIA hoopsters. Saint Louis has support from top to bottom.

“The game went very well, very competitive and safe,” Hale said. “Masks on, social distanced bench and no spectators. All good. It was a fun game. It was close in the fourth quarter.”

Prior to the game, there was some external criticism, but the process never stalled.

“There’s always pressure,” Hale noted. “But a lot more support.”

Saint Louis has a second exhibition on the slate against a club team today (Wednesday). Damien has Saint Louis on its schedule in February, and hopes to play Hanalani, as well.

“We have great support from our administration. All of us are very committed to providing a safe sports experience for our Saint Louis students. Our protocols are extensive, including playing in masks. We don’t have testing, but are looking into it,” Hale said. “Nothing is going to be 100 percent, but we feel confident in what we are doing, and so far it seems to be effective. We want to provide as safe a place as we can for our students to play. As an educational institution, we feel obligated to do what we can.”

The protocols also included symptom check at the door, banding verification, limited rosters and frequent hand sanitizing, Hale added.

“No jump ball, and the game ball swapped out at every break and sanitized,” he said. “There are other protocols, as well.”

Other schools, including Kamehameha and Mid-Pacific, have indicated that they will not partake of any exhibition games. Kamehameha boys basketball coach Larry Park and MPI boys basketball coach Robert Shklov confirmed that the teams will remain in skills workouts only.

“I can’t comment on what other schools are doing. They have to do what they feel comfortable doing,” Hale said. “I just know this is what we are comfortable doing here at Saint Louis.”


  1. Falcon Future January 20, 2021 2:17 pm

    Uhhhhm, is this for real? How did they play a basketball game when gymnasiums on the island are supposed to be closed. There are not supposed to be any organized sports happening right now, let alone in an enclosed gym.

    Plus, the current Tier 2 rules is limiting sports activities to 5 people or less, not 5 on 5 basketball! I find it hard to believe that schools are ignoring the city and state rules to “support” these basketball games. Can private schools really trump the city and state rules and do their own thing? If the answer is yes, St. Louis football should set up a game or two with Punahou, and the volleyball teams need to start setting up their own games too!

    Or is this just a big F-U to the ILH and HHSAA for canceling?

  2. really January 20, 2021 9:52 pm

    Fair Points @Future Falcon.

  3. rebel rouser robert January 21, 2021 9:49 am

    kudos to st. louis and damien for thinking outside the box. This state needs a few agitators to get things done in hawaii and get out of this rut we are in especially when it comes to our youths. The leaders from both schools had some balls to make this happen knowing they would get some fallout from some. Can’t figure out what the problem is since they practiced pragmatic protocol while playing the game. Not much difference between playing a basketball game without spectators versus shopping and standing in line at Longs on a Sunday.

  4. LiveAloha January 21, 2021 10:38 am

    People please: “When we met with the Governor, we asked him a couple of meetings ago if schools, both public and private, are a part of the city orders or the states orders?” Caldwell told Hawaii News Now. “We decided to not create confusion, so the state controls that, so things like sports at schools both public and private, is something that would be regulated by the state through their proclamations.”

  5. Rams33 January 21, 2021 11:21 am

    The most recent Honolulu proclamation has this wording:

    “Sports associated with educational institutions may operate in accordance with Department of Health

    So it would seem school sports can continue. But I’m not sure how club teams get around the rules in regards to the games St Louis and Damien have scheduled with club teams.

  6. Falcon Future January 21, 2021 2:30 pm

    These games are not sanctioned school sports. ILH, OIA and HHSAA already cancelled basketball season. The fact that Damien had to enter this game as a “club team” and other schools like MPI and Kamehameha declining to play tells you that some of the schools don’t want anything to do with this rogue idea.

    Maybe if St. Louis is taking on all the liabilities and responsibilities then that’s a different story. It also means they should have received clearance and a special waiver from the state to conduct these games to be played outside of the guidelines that everyone else on the island is following. Do anybody know if St. Louis actually get a waiver? I don’t know.

  7. Rams33 January 21, 2021 2:59 pm

    This appears to be no different than non-league sanctioned scrimmages which happen every year at every school. Do all schools have to receive special clearance and waivers for all non-league scrimmages each year? Of course not.

  8. Falcon Future January 21, 2021 3:56 pm

    ^^^ It’s way different this year because the state is in a pandemic due to COVID-19, so rules and guidelines for youth sports are different. Cannot be compared to past years. Sorry for not mentioning, I thought that was understood.

  9. Rams33 January 21, 2021 4:17 pm

    But ultimately the rules haven’t changed all that much. This is what is written by our local government:

    “Sports associated with educational institutions may operate in accordance with Department of Health guidance.”

    So school sports can happen as long as schools are following DOH guidance. There is no new mechanism in place for applying for or receiving special clearance or waivers.

    It’s not clear to me what waivers or clearance you’re referring to or who schools legally need to seek that approval from.

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