Twice the fun: 2 tourneys at Saint Louis

I’m probably the only one who was baffled by this for a few moments, but thanks to Wade Okamura, the mini-mystery has been solved.

I’d heard that the Walter Wong tournament would be after Christmas. Then a coach informed me that his team was playing in this longtime even on Dec. 18. Huh?

Then Okamura, the athletic director at Saint Louis, sent me the schedules. Plural. McCabe Gym is going to be busy. From Dec. 18-20, the Crusaders will host a Division II tourney, but technically, they’re calling it the Saint Louis Division I-AA Tournament because that’s what the ILH calls the D-II teams in its league.

It has an OIA-ILH format, too. Representing the OIA are Aiea, Kaimuki, Pearl City and Waialua. The ILH has Hawaii Baptist, ‘Iolani I-AA, Maryknoll I-AA and Saint Louis I-AA. I haven’t seen any of these teams yet since there have barely been any preseason games so far — final cuts were made last week. But I do remember ‘Iolani I-AA nearly winning Kailua’s Surfrider Classic a couple of seasons ago.

On Dec. 26, the annual Walter Wong Invitational tips off with a four-day tourney and a pre-set schedule. Again, it’s an OIA-ILH format with a twist: Zhejiang HP of China is in the tourney. This is not to be confused with Fuxian of China, which will play in the ‘Iolani Classic the week before.


>> If you love to see public schools and private schools battle, this is your chance.

>> If you love to see international basketball, here you go.

>> If you like knowing precisely what time your favorite team will play for each day of the tournament, see the schedule below. (I love mid-day and early-afternoon tip-offs — all-day, all-night basketball.)

It’s early, but my take on the I-AA tourney is that HBA will be very efficient. Coach George Weeks is adept at adapting his schemes to personnel. If they’re deep and they shoot the ball well, he might run a lot. But he’s just as sure to slow the tempo and exercise patience.

Kaimuki has a new coach in Greydon Espinda, a former three-sport athlete and graduate of the school. He was a tough-nosed, defensive stopper back then, and his team will follow that blueprint. Aiea and Pearl City will be interesting to watch. Both have benefitted in recent years from local feeder programs. We’ll see if the influx is continuing.

The WWI (Walter Wong Invitational) has one of the top teams in D-II statewide, Damien. Kapi‘ina King had a superb football season (wide receiver) and at 6-foot-6 or so, may dominate this winter. Kapolei and Leilehua have traditionally been tough in the OIA West. McKinley is young, but skilled.

Roosevelt won the Kalani varsity summer league with speed, defense and grit. Returning guard Kevin Foster is crafty, quick and one of the top players in the OIA. Saint Louis, though, has a real shot to win this. Keith Spencer’s squad has three returning guards, including 6-foot defensive whiz Jimmy Nunuha and dangerous long-range shooter Ihaka Johnson. Center Fred Ulu-Perry, the highly-recruited football standout, opted not to play hoops in his senior year, so it’ll be interesting to see how the battle for playing time in the frontcourt ensues.

‘Tis the season, hoopaholics. Enjoy.

• Saint Louis I-AA Tournament
Thursday, Dec. 18
2:30 pm Hawaii Baptist vs. Kaimuki
4 pm Maryknoll I-AA vs. Aiea
5:30 pm ‘Iolani I-AA vs. Waialua
7 pm Saint Louis I-AA vs. Pearl City

Friday, Dec. 19
2:30 pm Kaimuki vs. ‘Iolani I-AA
4 pm Pearl City vs. Maryknoll I-AA
5:30 pm Waialua vs. Hawaii Baptist
7 pm Aiea vs. Saint Louis I-AA

Saturday, Dec. 20
2:30 pm Hawaii Baptist vs. Pearl City
4 pm Maryknoll I-AA vs. Kaimuki
5:30 pm ‘Iolani I-AA vs. Aiea
7 pm Saint Louis vs. Waialua

• Walter Wong Invitational
Friday, Dec. 26
10 am Kapolei vs. Damien
11:30 am Leilehua vs. University
1 pm McKinley vs. Zhejiang HP
2:30 pm Saint Louis vs. Roosevelt

Saturday, Dec. 27
• Walter Wong Invitational
12:30 pm University vs. Kapolei
2 pm Damien vs. Roosevelt
3:30 pm Leilehua vs. McKinley
5 pm Saint Louis vs. Zhejiang

Monday, Dec. 29
• Walter Wong Invitational
12:30 pm McKinley vs. Damien
2 pm Roosevelt vs. University
3:30 pm Leilehua vs. Zhejiang
5 pm Saint Louis vs. Kapolei

Tuesday, Dec. 30
• Walter Wong Invitational
12:30 pm McKinley vs. University
2 pm Kapolei vs. Roosevelt
3:30 pm Zhejiang vs. Damien
5 pm Saint Louis vs. Leilehua


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