Sierra Canyon leads field as ‘Iolani Classic returns in December

Sierra Canyon’s Ira Lee slams in the first quarter of the La Lumiere vs Sierra Canyon basketball game for the championship of the 2015 Iolani Classic Basketball Tournament at Iolani gym. Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser. (Tuesday, December 22, 2015)

(12:20 p.m. Adds ‘Iolani Classic boys brackets.)

The ‘Iolani Classic is back with the No. 1-ranked team in the nation.

‘Iolani made the official announcement on Thursday morning after months of preparation. The boys Classic is set for Dec. 18-22 with NBCSN and Peacock set to air the semifinal and final rounds. All other boys tournament games will be aired on

Sierra Canyon is one of five teams from the mainland in the 14-team field. Among their key contributors is a familiar name, Bronny James, son of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James. Other visiting teams are St. Paul VI (Chantilly, Va.), Pembroke Pines Charter (Fla.), West Linn (Ore.) and Central Catholic (Ore.).

Hawaii entries are Baldwin, Punahou, Maryknoll, Damien, Kailua, Kalaheo, Leilehua, Waialua and host ‘Iolani. The Raiders feature two players, sophomore Aaron Claytor and freshman JJ Mandaquit, who already have Division I scholarship offers. Claytor has an offer from North Carolina A&T, and Mandaquit has an offer from Portland.

The schedule was released on Thursday afternoon. Punahou will face Sierra Canyon in the opening round.

Saturday, Dec. 18
11 a.m. Kalaheo vs. Central Catholic
12:30 p.m. Kailua vs. Pembrose Pines
2 p.m. Damien vs. West Linn
3:30 p.m. Maryknoll vs. St. Paul VI
5 p.m. ‘Iolani vs. Waialua
6:30 p.m. Punahou vs. Sierra Canyon

Monday, Dec. 20
9:30 a.m. Kalaheo-Central Catholic loser vs. Maryknoll-St. Paul VI loser
11 a.m. Kailua-Pembroke Pines loser vs. Damien-West Linn loser
12:30 p.m. ‘Iolani-Waialua loser vs. Punahou-Sierra Canyon loser
3 p.m. Leilehua vs. Maryknoll-St. Paul VI winner
4:30 p.m. Kalaheo-Central Catholic winner vs. Kailua-Pembroke Pines winner
6 p.m. ‘Iolani-Waialua winner vs. Punahou-Sierra Canyon winner
7:30 p.m. Baldwin vs. Damien-West Linn winner

The first day of the tourney is on a Saturday. Sunday will be a rest day, and the tourney will resume Monday and conclude on Wednesday (Dec. 22).

“We are excited for basketball and athletics in general to be back in the islands. I’m really happy for the kids, who have all been patient and working hard in the offseason,” ‘Iolani boys basketball coach Ryan Hirata said. “To have the opportunity to step on the court and compete after a tough year of cancellations is definitely something we all should be grateful for.”

The girls Classic will be played Dec. 9-11 with an eight-team field. The field features Centennial (Las Vegas), the No. 7-ranked team in the country, and California powerhouses Archbishop Mitty and Salesian College Prep. Local teams in the tourney are ‘Iolani, Hawaii Baptist, Kamehameha, Lahainaluna and Maryknoll.

‘Iolani, a two-time Hawaii defending champion, was the favorite to win a third title in a row before the 2020-21 season was cancelled. Returning all-state selection Jovi Lefotu signed with the University of Hawaii last week.

The girls tournament will be streamed live. The link will be available on

All games will be played at Father Bray Athletic Center.

Tony Dorado of Nike did a great job putting together another outstanding mainland field,” Hirata said. “Sierra Canyon is consistently one of the best teams in the country and on the West Coast, along with West Linn and Central Catholic, and teams from the East Coast in St. Paul VI and Pembroke Pines. On the girls side, Archbishop Mitty, Salesian and Centennial are all reputable programs that play a great brand of basketball.”

The TV deal is a first for the Classic, which was founded in 1983 by former Raiders coach and athletic director Glenn Young.

“I believe this is the first time Classic games will be televised on national TV,” Hirata said. “Hat’s off to the tournament committee led by Adam Wong on making it happen, along with all the generous tournament sponsors who are the backbone of the event. It’s great exposure for the state of Hawaii and the ‘Iolani Classic. The late Glenn Young would be proud.”

The Classic was sidelined in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions. This year’s event has its share of restrictions. Attendance will be limited to families and friends of players, two per athlete. All spectators are required to have proof of vaccination, plus proper ID. Spectators will be allowed to their team’s game only.

For players and coaches, there is only one way to experience the Classic.

“Enjoy the moment,” Hirata said, “and soak it all in.”


  1. Kekoa November 18, 2021 12:43 pm

    Interesting set of local teams.. punahou and Iolani gives Hawaii a chance. I heard Saint Louis beat Iolani a few weeks ago at Saint Louis?

  2. Paul Honda November 18, 2021 1:21 pm

    Saint Louis will be loaded once Aiva Arquette and AJ Bianco are back. Kamehameha has EJ Kapihe back from the Midwest. MPI and Damien will compete. ILH boys hoops will be hyper-competitive again.

  3. Paul Pierce November 18, 2021 3:06 pm

    How come Kahuku never get the invite?

  4. Adam Chang November 19, 2021 12:24 pm

    I love the pettiness the Iolani Schedule committee showed Punahou with the Sierra Canyon draw. I hope Punahou gives them all they can handle.

    No reason top 808 teams shouldn’t be in this field. They consistently bring in bottom teams to get blown out year after year. Bring the best of our state to play against the mainland’s best. They pride themselves in bringing in top teams every year from the mainland, do it for the State of Hawai’i too!!’ No local top team would turn it down from the 808. They know exactly who is good and who isn’t so there is no excuse. If local teams started beating top mainland teams they probably wouldn’t have a tournament anymore. Top teams wouldn’t come. Or it’s personal for the committee to withhold some of the top local teams. Of course they want Iolani to shine but when other local schools shine we all shine as a State. Someone else make a better tournament for locals!!

  5. Paul Pierce November 20, 2021 12:12 pm

    I hope Waialua upsets Iolani in the first round. Amazing how Iolani draws local teams first round every year. Lets go Bulldogs!!!

  6. Shooter808 December 9, 2021 2:28 am

    Are you kidding? Punahou is probably psyched to get the opportunity to play the #1 team in the country. After Iolani they have the best draw! What other local school will have that chance? No one.

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