The holiday season is busy enough for shoppers and those of us driving in vehicles who aren’t shopping.
Then there’s rain that slows all traffic to a crawl.
Then there’s prep hoops. The onslaught of tournaments is upon us in full, thick morass. The Walter Wong Invitational tipped off on Monday with four games. Host Saint Louis is coming off a title run at the St. Joseph Cardinal Classic in Hilo. The Crusaders didn’t play on Monday, but Kaiser routed Saint Louis II 62-30, Punahou II edged Campbell 64-61 despite 25 points by Mitchell Williams, University blitzed Castle 60-16 and Le Jardin outlasted Waipahu 35-31.
The schedule reads like this for the WWI today: St. Francis vs. Kaiser, 3:30 p.m. That’s a bit surprising because St. Francis has its Holiday Hoops Classic ongoing. It began on Monday, as well. So St. Francis is playing into two tournaments simultaneously. Also at WWI, Kahuku plays Punahou II at 5 p.m., followed by Kauai-University, 6:30 p.m. and Saint Louis-Le Jardin at 8 p.m.
The St. Francis tourney got off to a rousing start as No. 3 Damien — voted off its No. 1 perch by coaches and media this week — ousted No. 10 Kailua 62-57. That makes it four victories by the Division II Monarchs over Top 10 opponents so far in preseason. They got a balanced scoring attack led by PG Jydon Hall (16 points), along with transfer Bryce Forbes (14), freshman Hayden Bayudan (13) and post Jake Holtz (13). They have the kind of balance that recalls the Kalaheo title teams of a few years back.
Kalaheo currently is besieged by injuries. The No. 5 Mustangs lost to Lahainaluna 47-41 in another opening-round game. The Lunas had not played a game since going 1-2 in the week-one James Alegre Invitational.
In other games at St. Francis, No. 1 Punahou overpowered No. 10 Kahuku 92-54 and the host Saints outscored Waiakea in overtime, 75-72.
Pound for pound, it’s tough to match the competitiveness at St. Francis’ tourney. Six of the eight teams are ranked, and two of them easily could be. Here’s the Tuesday schedule.
>> No. 5 Kalaheo vs. No. 10 Kahuku, 3:30 p.m., consolation
>> No. 10 Kailua vs. Waiakea, 5 p.m., consolation
>> Lahainaluna vs. No. 1 Punahou, 6:30 p.m., semifinal
>> No. 3 Damien vs. No. 6 St. Francis, 8 p.m., semifinal
The Lunas aren’t towering in the front court, but they have the mind-set it takes to slow down the run-and-gun Buffanblu. Damien is 9-0, but the Saints will seek to avenge an earlier 74-60 loss to the Monarchs. But each time the Saints have an overtime game or a close battle that tests the limits of their depth, they have not bounced back strong the following day. So far.
The inaugural Kaimuki Invitational, featuring Top 10 squads Maryknoll and Kamehameha, tips off on Thursday.
The girls have the ‘Iolani Classic, also tipping off on Tuesday. Clovis West is already in town, thank you Twitter photo from the hotel in Waikiki.
And ILH girls are in full swing. Punahou got its first big test of the season on Monday, and for a quarter and a half, the Buffanblu kept it tight. Then experience and execution took over and the top-ranked ‘Iolani Raiders rolled to a 53-37 victory.
In another ILH matchup, Maryknoll defeated Mid-Pacific 57-41 at Mills Gymnasium. That means the Spartans and ‘Iolani have one loss each, chasing Kamehameha (2-0).
Kamehameha hosts Maryknoll in a big showdown on Wednesday. Punahou has another key challenge that night at Mid-Pacific.
Punahou’s busy week concludes on Saturday with a visit to Kamehameha. The Buffanblu had just six preseason games and new coach Gary Pacarro is watching his young team — six sophomores — endure the learning curve in the midst of ILH season.
At Col. Ellison Onizuka Gymnasium on Monday night, No. 8 Hilo gave No. 6 Konawaena a major scare. The Wildcats triumphed 46-44 behind 22 points from Caiyle Kaupu. Kaiiana Salazar Harrell added 10 points. Konawaena’s BIIF streak is now at 120 wins in a row.
Tatiana Rideout led Hilo with 14 points. Keirstyn Agonius chipped in 10 points.