For basketball fans, the week of tournaments on the boys side was (and is) pretty awesome.
I say awesome in the sense that there were tourneys in town, on the Windward side, and somewhat near Central Oahu (Radford). I can’t even remember the last time I saw a preseason tourney on the Leeward side or in Central Oahu.
But I also say pretty awesome because, well, we haven’t gotten the matchup I wanted to see: Kalaheo vs. Maryknoll. That does, however, lead me into some reflection on this week’s games, which includes Friday’s win by McKinley over Maryknoll.
>> All business up mauka. Over at Col. Ellison Onizuka Gymnasium in historic Kealakekua, the girls team at Konawaena outmaneuvered Lahainaluna 61-52. In lieu of a preseason poll at this point, my only reference is the Pupule Top 10, where the Lady Lunas are No. 5 and the magnificent Wildcats are No. 1. By magnificent, I do mean that Konawaena has the best player in the state — Chanelle Molina was offered a scholarship by UH’s Laura Beeman as a sophomore — one of the best rebounders in Celena Molina, and one of the best point guards in freshman Cherilyn Molina, plus dynamic post Ihi Victor, and influx of more Stingrays (coach Bobbie Awa‘s youth program) AND the three long-range bombers from Lahainaluna who transferred recently.
The Wildcats are now 9-0. They have one more game in the tourney before flying to Oahu next week for the ‘Iolani Classic. This may turn out to be more like the Wildcats of Lia Galdeira and Dawnyelle Awa‘s junior year. They won the state title, had a solid showing in the Classic, losing to a physical, borderline dirty Brea Olinda (Calif.) team. Or this year’s ‘Cats could be more like the 2012 squad that decimated everybody, including Brea Olinda, winning the Classic crown and the state championship. We don’t know yet. Talent is one thing, but hunger and chemistry can’t really be measured until iron meets iron.
Lahainaluna is good. Good as in, beat Punahou on Oahu good. That was in the first week of preseason, but that sent a clear message, the MIL champs losing three key players, and still beating the defending state champs.
>> Twice is nice. Back to the boys. For the second time in as many years, McKinley knocked off ILH powerhouse Maryknoll at its Hawaii Self-Storage Black and Gold Classic. The Tigers’ 63-61 win was different in this aspect compared to last year: the Spartans were missing a leading scorer in the 2013 matchup. This time, it was youth versus youth. Three of coach Duane Omori‘s top four scorers in the win are underclassmen, including sophomore Jonah Howard (17 points), junior Dan Villejo (12) and junior Huthifah Abdel-Jawad (10). Junior Nelson Pita and freshman Kyle Moraga are also key contributors in the rotation.
The Spartans are very young and very talented with freshman shotblocker Brian Washington (13 points) and sophomore transfer Justice Sueing Jr. (12). This was a game I wish I could’ve seen, just can’t be everywhere at the same time. I think.
>> Kalaheo en fuego. The Mustangs improved to 2-0 with a 60-48 win over Campbell in a matchup of OIA title contenders. Kalaheo is clearly in state-championship run mode, looking fast and smart much of the time. Kaleb Gilmore (29 points) sparked the win on Friday against a Sabers squad that was impressive in its opener against Kalani. Their 6-foot-5 shotblocker, David Marrero, will be a force defensively, no question.
>> Gov Nation. Farrington won its third game this week, routing Saint Louis II 77-30. The Govs are averaging nearly 80 points per game as coach Allan Silva rotates his entire 16-man roster. If it ain’t broke…
>> Defend ‘Iolani. ‘Iolani’s state-title defense is off to a strong start with wins over Mililani and Radford. Speaking of big men, Hugh Hogland is 6-8 now, the Raiders say, and in the best shape of his young life.
>> Why not, Waipahu? The Marauders shook off a 40-point loss to Farrington early in the week to play two strong games at the Surfriders Holiday Classic. They beat ‘Iolani II, then nearly upset tourney host Kailua, leading until the end of the third quarter. They played smart, using their advantages in speed and quickness to spread the floor against the bigger squad. It was a twist compared to the earlier game between Saint Louis and Roosevelt. Saint Louis opted to go small against Roosevelt and match up with quickness. Kailua opted to stay fairly big, but got aggressive defensively in the second half.
Coach Walter Marciel was almost as active on the sideline, imploring his defense to get after the pesky Marauders, and they did. The trapping and tight on-ball pressure brought the home crowd to life. Kailua eked out a tough 43-35 win and will face Saint Louis tonight in the final.
What have we learned? I still want to see Kalaheo get tested as often as possible. They are, in my Pupule eyes, the best team in the OIA. They won’t face Maryknoll. And, at least for now, they won’t face Punahou, Saint Louis, Kamehameha or ‘Iolani. Kalaheo will not be in the OIA-ILH Challenge next week. Coach Alika Smith’s team is also not in the ‘Iolani Classic.
I suppose I’ve learned that I want to see some early-season, titanic battles. All in due time.