‘Tis the season for hoop fanatics

By Paul Honda


My name is Pupule and I am a hoopaholic.

All: Hi Pupule.

Yeah, there’s still much work to be done with the final fall sport (football all-state voting and photos and yadayada), but this week is finally a time to bathe in the fountain of hoops.

Moanalua dominated Kailua on Tuesday night. Watch Joanna Nicolas play the game. She does everything right. Well, almost everything. Give me five Joannas and I’ll give you an OIA Red title. Rebounds. Handles the ball. Sets up the offense. Great passes. Three-point stroke smoother than any I’ve seen so far this season.

She’s just a junior.

Last week, it was a bit of everything. I haven’t mentioned yet (in print or online) that I saw one game at the Pete Smith Classic before I had to hop over the Koolaus to the Aloha Prep Bowl. That one game was the seventh-place matchup between Pearl City and AOP.

While that may not sound enticing to most of you, trust me, I’m glad I was there. Lionel Villarmia is a tremendous coach who knows how to extract effort and hustle out of his team — which frankly isn’t huge with talent, but grabs most loose balls. The Chargers were outsized by AOP, which has a talented 6-foot-3 junior transfer from Honokaa (Micah Dunhour) and a 6-4 transfer from Germany.

But Pearl CIty has better chemistry, better ball movement, and won the game in overtime 54-49. AOP has potential, though. I won’t be surprised if they make the Division II state tourney. Dunhour, who scores mostly off drives to the basket, finished with 15 points on 6-for-17 shooting. He also had seven rebounds and just three turnovers, and I think he didn’t sit one second.

The German kid, Simon Koch, is also just a junior. He had 16 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks. Depending on how much they play in the offseason — both played with Hawaii Select last summer — they might become a formidable tandem by next year, if not this season.

Of course, the main entree this week is the ‘Iolani Classic. You, you and you may want to bring a video camera to the slam dunk contest, but it hasn’t been much to remember since Josh Smith flew and threw down some incredible stuff (how’s about the alley-oop off the wall?) a few years back. I doubt anyone will touch that for a long time to come, just like we haven’t really seen a great, pure shooter as good as Dennis Scott was some 24 years ago or so.

The Classic tips off this afternoon (Thursday), but Yates won’t see the floor until Friday. Yates? Yeah, the team that averages 130 points per game. Put this in the category of “Must be seen to be believed.”

Other than the big-name teams like Yates and Montrose Christian, I’m more interested in seeing how Kamehameha and other local teams have progressed. Kamehameha looked good last week in a win over Punahou at the James Alegre Invitational. The Warriors aren’t big, not like last season, but they have chemistry, good decision-making with the ball, and a go-to scorer in Micah Christenson.

His vertical leap is ridiculous this season, and I’m talking about his leaping from a standing start. He may turn out to be an All-American in college volleyball one day, but if he can double in hoops, I think he really can do some interesting things. At 6-5 (and change — he says he grew a half-inch or so since last year) with a pure 3-point stroke and superb defense, Christenson’s got all the potential in the world.

There are other games (OIA girls are in regular season) and tournaments (a lot of ’em real soon), but it’s nice to have the Classic going strong as ever.

For you shoe buffs, bring your green. Those 25th Anniversary Nike shoes that were so limited in supply last year have made a return. I made my orders; I suggest you get there real quick today or lose out again.

See you at the Classic, hoopaholics.


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