Saint Louis releases Sol Batoon after two seasons

Saint Louis coach Sol Batoon argued a call with the referees during a game this season. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Two days ago, a rumor swirled about Sol Batoon’s status as the boys basketball coach at Saint Louis.

On Thursday morning, the rumor transformed into reality. Saint Louis administrators met with Batoon early in the day and told him he has been released as head coach.

“I have no regrets. I enjoyed the experience,” Batoon said. “We had a successful year and turned the culture around.”


The Crusaders began the nonconference season with a 7-0 mark, including a win over No. 6 St. Francis at the Walter Wong Invitational. They rose to No. 6 in the Star-Advertiser Top 10 going into the ILH season.

The gauntlet of ILH foes — all ranked in the Top 10 at one time or another — included the state’s top three teams in Maryknoll, Punahou and ‘Iolani. Saint Louis opened the slate with a win at St. Francis, then ranked No. 5, but seven consecutive losses followed. Among them was a 75-69 loss to ‘Iolani, a 65-60 overtime loss at Punahou and another close loss at ‘Iolani, 60-55.

After wins over Kamehameha and Mid-Pacific, Saint Louis lost to Kamehameha and Punahou. In the playoffs, the Crusaders lost at ‘Iolani, 65-41, ending their season.

They were 10-10 overall this season. In two seasons, the Crusaders were 17-32 overall and 3-17 in regular-season play. They were also 0-2 in playoff games. Yet, there is a sense that the arrow is pointing up. The JV program is competitive and the intermediate program is winning games. There are offseason teams playing in outside leagues from the elementary level on up.

This year’s varsity team had eight athletes from the three-time defending state-championship football team. The team was extremely competitive against unranked teams — 6-0 — and 4-10 against Top 10 teams. Batoon was hoping for a year or two more to get his system rooted from the ground up.


“It’s changing from the bottom up. You’ve got to give it time,” Batoon said. “I didn’t enjoy the losing part. I never lost so much in my life. I was hired a year ago when the (2017-18) season started, so I didn’t get a chance to really know the kids. That was a rough year. This year, I had a little better kids, not basketball kids, but we were competitive and worked hard. They progressed. Next year, I would’ve had 90 percent basketball guys.”

Keith Spencer and Allan Silva, two prominent coaches with successful histories, preceded Batoon. Neither achieved their previous levels of success at Kalaepohaku.

“It’s a football school, so you get a lot of good athletes. They’re playing basketball, but they’re not basketball players. It’s my fault for jumping in the fire,” Batoon said. “The (administration) is going to do what they want to do. That’s why it’s a changed world. You no longer are given opportunities to really provide change. Everything is immediate gratification.”

Batoon is open to new opportunities.

“I have the energy and the mental capacity to develop a program, any program, Division I, II, III, if that’s what the school wants to do. That’s why we were successful at St. Francis,” he said.


Batoon led the Saints to a Division II state title in 2013. Two years later, he was released as athletic director and boys basketball coach.

“It took eight years, but we left it in a good place and it continued the success,” he said.

COMMENTS

  1. Beenaround February 21, 2019 9:49 am

    “I never lost so much”, that’s funny, cause every program he’s ever been a part of lost a lot. It may not have been in the win lost column, but off the court. Saint Louis was fools to even consider him, he is a part of the reason why St. Francis is closing.
    Saint Louis has rarely had true basketball players, but unreal athletes that competed very hard. He would not have taken St. Louis to any new levels. The lower levels are always competitive and talented, not a whole lot of coaching needed. Lets hope they make a good choice with the next selection.


  2. HILife February 21, 2019 1:09 pm

    StL definitely underachieved the last 2 years considering the talent that they had. Many wanted Batoon out for quite a while but the guy has some connections which made it harder to boot him. Surprised he was even hired in the first place. Google his name, especially in connection with St. Francis, to find some “interesting” tidbits on the guy.


  3. Opinion February 21, 2019 1:10 pm

    @beenaround Get your story straight he wasnt the reason St. Francis is closing. He actually brought alot of money into that school. The gym was built because of him and his hustle. The football program which he didnt want put them into more debt than anything. How can you have 1 parent paying $1000 for 4 kids thats what is happening. He is a great coach.


  4. Beenaround February 21, 2019 1:32 pm

    @opinion- I did not say he was the reason, I said he was a part of the reason. You think the few players he convinced to attend St. Francis paid full tuition? You must be a young parent or played for him. Take HIlife advice and Google him


  5. ??? February 21, 2019 2:21 pm

    “Recruited not Rooted”, said St Louis basketball was going to shock the ILH and the State by Fighting for the Top seed this year but I haven’t heard from him since pre-season?
    The only way STL will rise to the top in basketball is to have Cal Lee Recruit the state like he does for football !
    Maryknoll, Punahou & Iolani has a strong hold on Basketball recruiting !!!


  6. Facts February 21, 2019 2:26 pm

    Stop lumping ‘Iolani in with Punahou and Maryknoll when talking about recruiting. Please name one player recruited by ‘Iolani. It’s a fantasy (and fake news!).


  7. TruthBeTold February 21, 2019 2:50 pm

    I never read so many excuses in this article as a coach in my life. So did STL lose to Mid Pac this year because Mid Pac has more talented basketball players? Seriously, I seen a bunch of their games this year and that is no excuse, if Mid Pac coach Ryan Hirata was coaching STL he would have done wonders and not be making excuses like this coach.


  8. Jack robins February 21, 2019 5:05 pm

    ALL YOU CLOWNS STOP GOING UNKNOWN WHEN YOU TALKING LIKE THAT!!!!


  9. Beau Tosaka February 21, 2019 5:40 pm

    Jack Robins, Talking like what? Is writing in all CAPS suppose to make people reveal themselves when you yourself wrote a fake name? From reading all these reviews, a lot of people must know Saint Louis basketball had a lot of talent and didnt play to their full potential. It also seems like they got quite alot of info via google and people they know on the coach and the players. If youre going to say stop talking “like that”, please explain more like what “that” means and have some facts included. Mahalo and dont get butt hurt if youre backing up a guy who has nuthin to show after 2 years at a great program when coaches in Hawaii have won titles in their first year at a program like Alika Smith who won a D2 and D1 title.


  10. ??? February 21, 2019 6:53 pm

    @Facts
    If you believe Iolani doesn’t Recruit then your screen name should not be Facts, it should be FAKES😂


  11. Recruited not Rooted February 21, 2019 8:30 pm

    @??? I’ll admit I was very wrong about this team. This is a perfect example why Coach Cal is a GREAT coach. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have a good coach you won’t win championships PERIOD! Case and point this Saint Louis basketball team. This Crusader team was the most athletic team I’ve seen all year and had as much basketball talent as anyone this side of Maryknoll. They had a 12 point second half lead and led by seven with just over a minute to go at Punahou and fumbled it away in overtime. They had numerous large early leads in the ILH including double digits against Maryknoll and fell apart. This team should never lose to Iolani with their size and talent, just way outcoached. This is the most undisciplined team I have ever seen and that falls on the coach. They turned the ball over (UNFORCED turnovers) like a youth team, not a varsity basketball team. No accountability whatsoever. If you turn the ball over and over again you need to be on the bench until you figure the value and importance of every possession. If a player refuses to go in the game when you tell him, you don’t put him back in the game in the second half and start him the next game, you bury him on the bench until he understands the meaning of team. Maybe they should reach out to Jason Justice at Lahainaluna, he does more with less than any coach in the state. Wasn’t his girlfriend a standout at Punahou? A package deal with the Ng father and son would be tough to beat too. Whoever the coach is they’ll have a lot to work with. FWIW nobody will beat Maryknoll, they’re the class of the state, but that’s why they play the game. Good luck to all the teams left and let the games be competitive and the kids come out injury free.


  12. Facts February 21, 2019 9:40 pm

    @???

    Like I said, name just one person recruited at ‘Iolani. Back up your unfounded assumptions with actual evidence.


  13. ??? February 22, 2019 7:58 am

    @Facts
    You’re the Iolani Guy; go check to see how many basketball players paying FULL student tuition & their is your proof !!!


  14. ??? February 22, 2019 8:05 am

    @Recruited not Rooted
    Not only were you wrong but you had the nerve to say “I didn’t know my ass from a hole in the ground”. STL won 3 ILH games, I’ll just leave it at that🤙🏽
    As far as your Cal Lee coaching statement, I also think you are wrong! Ron Lee is the REAL coach that keeps the STL train going Not Cal.
    Ron has an OIA Prep Bowl title to prove it! Cal is just the Best recruiter. Cal even admitted that Ron is addicted to football way more than Cal.


  15. ??? February 22, 2019 8:07 am

    I guarantee if Ron Lee was hired by Punahou they would dethrone Cal & STL within 2 years!!!


  16. Facts February 22, 2019 8:54 am

    @???

    Wow. You have some real gaps in your logical thinking. I hope you are not entrusted with any important decisions. I will just leave it there since you obviously have no credibility on this topic. It’s too bad because I was hoping that you actually had some real information to contribute.


  17. Falcon Future February 22, 2019 9:08 am

    Politics aside, this is the best decision for St. Louis to make. Batoon is way too old to be coaching and it shows. The TV game against Iolani was a joke and embarrassing for St. Louis. It looked like the St. Louis players never even practiced before and Iolani was running circles around them.


  18. HILife February 22, 2019 9:40 am

    A certain Iolani b-ball great from the past is currently an equally great person and citizen. But facts is that while in public school before attending Iolani he was “challenged” academically and didn’t come from the type of affluence that would enable his family to pay tuition at the school….yet he was admitted. Not sure what people’s definition of recruiting is but just saying.


  19. suspense February 22, 2019 1:13 pm

    in the iolani game, seems no discipline in passing the ball. when passing long, seems the one passing was one of the football team’s qb passing to a wilson, beyer, nishigaya, close or sykes. off course, was not so, and thus was intercepted, turnovers.


  20. ??? February 22, 2019 3:28 pm

    Thank you HILife🤙🏽
    @Facts is still in denial that Iolani Recruits😂
    They may not do it on a STL or Punahou level but they do it and there’s nothing wrong wit it, it’s legal !!


  21. Recruited not Rooted February 22, 2019 8:17 pm

    @??? I admitted I was wrong but not that you were right. For all their shortcomings this team still finished 500 and had 3 ILH wins which is 3 more than you thought. Seems I struck a nerve. I still believe you don’t know your ass from a hole in the ground and from reading past threads seems that most others feel the same way. 😁😂🤣


  22. ??? February 22, 2019 8:26 pm

    @Recruited not Rooted
    Like the ROCK says “It doesn’t matter what you think”😂
    You admitted you were wrong is all that matters.
    Now you trying reverse Phycology by down playing STL 3 wins😂😂😂😂😂
    I know my ass from one hole in the ground!
    “The Hole is you”🤡


  23. Recruited not Rooted February 22, 2019 9:33 pm

    @??? Just having some fun brother, nothing personal. Thanks for spending so much time on all these threads, it keeps us entertained. That’s really what these threads are for, right???


  24. Broken Spoke February 23, 2019 1:41 am

    Not one of Iolani’s starters or players were recruited for basketball. Lee, Wheeler (Sons of Iolani there since Kindergarten) Felix and Bumanglang and Molina since 6th grade. That fictions Iolani recruiter must’ve had some eye for talent 13 years ago??? Many of the bench players also been at Iolani since K or 6th grade (first 2 admission grades) and most of their parents struggle to pay the entire $25,600 per year. Just eat it, ??? is totally full of sh!t as usual… and an idiot.


  25. ??? February 23, 2019 6:57 am

    @Broken Spoke “aka” Broken Dreams”.
    Learn the dictionary meaning of “Recruit” before putting your foot in your mouth.
    You can Recruit someone without giving them a scholarship at all!
    But like I said before there are Iolani basketball players that don’t pay full tuition because of their athletic abilities; that’s a fact cause I know one of the parents who was swayed “recruited” to enroll his kid without paying full tuition!!
    Sorry to start your day off on the wrong foot but have a nice day.


  26. Loca1boiAnonymous February 23, 2019 9:00 am

    ‘Iolani doesn’t recruit? Load of crock. They may not have any current kids but in years past they have recruited for both boys and girls basketball teams. I have a relative who was paying ball at MidPac she was courted by Iolani to transfer there based off of her basketball and she did. If facts wants to look the other way then whatever but their 11 stae titles didnt come by handing out flyers to the kids at chess and speech and debate team meetings.


  27. Broken Spoke February 23, 2019 9:07 am

    ??? you mean Go Figure, etc. I never used the word “scholarship” as you have incorrectly stated. Name 1 starting Iolani Varsity player who is not paying full tuition. Perhaps you should take your foot out of your okole and stop with the “recruiting” excuses. If you know “an Iolani Varsity Basketball Player” who’s “not paying full tuition” as you claim, then you should know enough about the program to know that they don’t recruit and that Dean picks athletes who possess the highest academic standards of all Iolani sports…and who can shoot (now that the Hoglands are gone). Please consider the effects your anti-ILH comments have on these kids and their families and be the voice of reason instead of acrimony. If all of the ILH kids went back to their respective OIA schools as you have suggested on countless prior occasions, then many of the OIA kids wouldn’t even have a chance to participate in sports at all. The fact that there is a private school league means that the OIA can service more students with their very limited resources and it allows greater participation overall. The friendly banter between public and private schools is totally cool but the repeatedly over exaggerated “recruiting excuse” is false and misleading. You take care my brother.


  28. ??? February 23, 2019 1:04 pm

    @Broken Spoke “aka Broken Record”
    I have NEVER said a kid should go back to their community to play @ their public school !!
    I am all for private schools if the parents & kid wants to go. I am only against SOME cocky ILH fans that think their above all public schools and brag about smashing them, like STL Academy Football and their recruiting on every island!
    Check your facts and read posts #26!
    Like I said Before, the Iolani parent told me to my face🤙🏽


  29. truth February 24, 2019 4:00 am

    This is an opportunity to hire coach Durant and Kekoa Ng and get Kordel to play for St Louis! haha it was all part of the plan Sol Batoon! Your out their coming in!


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